Aberystwyth University launches rural crime study

13-Jun-2017

Researchers at Aberystwyth University are calling on farmers in the Dyfed-Powys Police area to contribute to a new study on rural crime.

The Rural Crime Study is led by Wyn Morris and Dr David Dowell from Aberystwyth Business School and Dr Gareth Norris from the Department of Psychology.

Available as a paper questionnaire and online until Friday 30 June 2017, the study asks for details about farms and famers’ experiences of farm-related crimes.

It also seeks their views on police attitude towards thefts from farms and their trust in their local communities, the police and the legal system.

The findings will inform new initiatives being developed by Dyfed-Powys Police to tackle rural crime and provide advice to farmers on how best to report farm theft.

Criminal Psychologist Dr Gareth Norris said: “This study has been designed to get a better understanding of the true extent of rural crime and the challenges it poses to the farming community and the police. The findings will help inform the way in which rural crime is reported and recorded in future, and highlight the serious problem of crime in the countryside.”

The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) survey published in 2015 suggested the true cost of crime in rural areas in England and Wales could exceed £800m, significantly higher than previous estimates.

A study published by NFU Mutual in 2016 reported that ATV/quad bikes, machinery, farm and commercial tools and livestock were in the top five items targeted by thieves.

Dr Norris added: “All the indications are that many of the thefts from farms are the work of organised criminals. They know what they are looking for and have a ready market for their ill-gotten gains. Sheep and cattle rustling requires specialist knowledge of the industry, not only to catch and transport animals, but also to process and dispose of them quickly and with little trace.

“Setting aside the financial cost, in some instances farmers will lose long-established and valuable blood lines developed over generations. The effects can be considerably more than the short-term inconvenience of losing a few animals”, he added.

The study is backed by Dyfed-Powys Police, Farmers Union of Wales (FUW), National Farmers Union (NFU) and Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers Ltd.

Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys Police said:  “Dyfed Powys Police is the most rural of Police Forces and is the largest geographical Force area across Wales and England. We have many disparate rural communities and therefore we are committed to fully understanding the needs and requirements of all groups, communities and business sectors. This survey will support Dyfed Powys Police in understanding the unique pressures facing these rural areas and in particular the crime and antisocial behaviour affecting agriculture and will allow us to deliver services that meets these demands efficiently. As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, I am committed to regularly engaging with all communities utilising the knowledge and skills within local universities to support this and I encourage people to take part in order to inform us of the issues.”

FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We have been working hard with police forces across Wales to highlight the devastating effect of rural crime and the importance of having a dedicated rural crime team for many years. The ever-changing landscape of rural crime is a growing concern, especially if we think of the amount that goes unreported and we strongly believe that a better joint working approach is needed to address these issues. We urge our members to fill in the survey, as the findings will inform new initiatives being developed by Dyfed-Powys Police to tackle rural crime and will ultimately be helpful in providing advice to farmers on how best to report farm theft.”

NFU Cymru President Stephen James said: “Rural crime is something that will have touched most farm businesses in one way or another at some point – it has blighted the industry for many years. NFU Cymru welcomes this new study and encourages farmers across Dyfed-Powys to contribute their views and help enable the police to find new ways to tackle this problem.”

The online version of the Rural Crime Study can be viewed at https://aber.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/rural-crime-study-1

Paper copies are available from Wyn Morris, Aberystwyth Business School [email protected] / 01970 622513

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