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New ‘Farm Watch’ scheme tackling rural crime

BILLY Morton, Chairman of the Ulster Farmers Union Armagh North West Group, has been helping Armagh police launch a new initiative aimed at tackling rural crime and helping the rural community protect itself from criminals.

‘Farm Watch’, which is supported by Armagh Police and Community Safety Partnership, aims to promote  the importance of being vigilant and the need for improved communication – both within rural and farming communities and between rural communities and the PSNI.

Local Neighbourhood Officers Con. Simon Carey and Con. Phil Hunter visited Mr Morton’s farm this week to sign him up to the scheme. 

He said: “This is a great initiative which will increase co-operation at local level between the police and farmers and I hope that with the introduction of Farm Watch local farmers will feel reassured that their concerns are being taken seriously. 

“Farmers need to be willing to play their part in the effort to reduce rural crime in the Armagh area and I would encourage all our members to sign up to the scheme.  Together we can beat rural crime.”

In addition to being part of a text and email alert scheme, farmers and rural dwellers who sign up to Farm Watch will receive specific `Farm Watch` roadside/property signage to act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.

They will also be able to have their trailers and other farm machinery property marked. Property marking makes it harder for thieves to dispose of stolen machinery and makes it easier for police to return any recovered items to their rightful owners.

Practical crime prevention advice is also available from police and crime prevention officers to farmers and landowners, to help ensure that property and equipment are as secure as possible.

Inspector Gerard Pollock, Armagh Neighbourhood and Response, said: “Visiting a local farm in Ballyards was the perfect opportunity for us to meet people from the local rural community and promote Farm Watch.  This initiative brings together a number of schemes and crime prevention advice which will help the rural and agricultural communities to protect their property better. 

“Simply put, it’s about rural communities coming together and helping police to close the gate on rural crime. We hope that the initiative will improve our interaction with this community and ensure they are receiving timely and informative advice and support.”

Chairman of Armagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership Cllr Roy McCartney commented: “The Farm Watch scheme has been designed to further reduce the thefts of plant, machinery and livestock from farms and rural properties.

“Potential thieves and burglars often prey on isolated rural properties and this scheme will provide practical assistance to farmers to prevent the crime in the first place and to assist with detections.  The PSCP recognises that there are community concerns in rural areas and we are proactively responding to local concerns. I would encourage all farmers in the area to avail of this scheme.”

For further information of the PSNI ‘E’ District Farm Watch scheme and the rural CCTV cameras, please contact the PSNI E District South Crime Prevention Officer or your local Neighbourhood Policing Team Officers by phoning the police non-emergency number 0845 600 8000.

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