Police forum puts the focus on rural crime

POLICE in north Northumberland are holdng a special rural crime event in Acklington next week.

The third rural forum in the last two years will be held at Acklington Auction Mart on Monday, November 7, between 11am and 3pm.

The event will allow rural communities to meet local officers and discuss crime issues, concerns or problems.

Neighbourhood officers will be on hand to give advice and speak to residents about issues such as Farmwatch, fuel thefts, quad and farm equipment security and marking techniques to deter metal thefts.

Northumberland Area Command Chief Superintendent Mark Dennett said: “Rural crime and protecting our rural communities remains a priority for all my officers.

“We have a number of operations currently running in the more rural areas where we are visiting farms daily and sharing information with them, giving crime prevention advice and letting farmers, landowners and residents know we are here for them.

“Rural residents are our eyes and ears on the ground and we need them to continue to report suspicious vehicles, people and keep us informed about what’s going on in throughout the county.

“By raising awareness of rural crime and how to prevent it, we can help keep this area a great place to live and work.

“I’d urge as many people as possible to take advantage of the roadshow and come along and speak to police on the day.”

Alnwick Neighbourhood Police Inspector Sue Peart said: “We are actually going to them (farmers) where they can do their business and hopefully see us at the same time.”

The main concerns for police and rural communities at present are:

Metal thefts – the demand for scrap metal continues and thieves from outside the area continue to travel into Northumberland to commit crimes.

While officers have had some success, they still want people to be vigilant, particularly in the early hours of the day. Recent trends suggest a number of thefts are happening overnight.

Animals – rustling is not a common crime, but it does occur and it is distressing for those affected.

Regular attention needs to be given to livestock, with up-to-date records of numbers and regular checks on fencing and animals.

Fuel – most heating fuel thefts occur in autumn and winter and are easy to commit because the tanks often have poor quality locks. The summer is a good time to check tank security because a loss of fuel in midwinter may mean going without for several weeks

Travelling criminals – many people who commit rural crimes in Northumberland do not live there.

Everyone is encouraged to report suspicious vehicles and people to the police as soon as possible either through Farmwatch, or through the 999 system.

Vehicles – although it is common practice to leave ignition keys in farm vehicles, thieves are aware of this and will take advantage.

Anyone with a vehicle that more than one person needs to drive should use spare keys rather than leaving a set in the vehicle.