Cumbrian young farmers have been offered the chance to play a key role in helping to keep their communities safe and not become victims of rural crime.
A unique training package aims to help safeguard their own interests.
The initiative was developed by Joe Murray, Chair of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (NWA) in conjunction with Cumbria YFC County Chair, Robbie Tuer, and has been progressed with the support of the Police Crime Prevention Academy.
Joe Murray, Chair of Cumbia Neighbourhood watch said, “Farms and the wider rural communities in Cumbria have increasing become targets of criminals in recent times.
“Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association have now created an opportunity where young farmers will be trained in Crime Prevention this includes being able to carry out forensic property marking that can make a significant difference and prevent owners of expensive machinery from becoming victims of crime.
“I’m delighted that we have developed an initiative that we can work with partners at both a local and national level and will act as good practice for others to follow.
“In addition, we are also introducing the ‘Trespass Scheme’ that was previously used to good effect to prevent people who have been found on private land and suspected of being involved in rural crime.
“This initiative was used to good effect some years ago and can be likened to the same type of work that Pubwatch does, i.e., banned from one, banned from all private property.”
Robbie Tuer, Cumbria YFC County Chair said: “As chairman of the Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (Cumbria YFC), an organisation of some 1800 young farmers, the Farm Crime Prevention Initiative struck a chord with me immediately.
“Although not all our members live or work on farms, most have strong links with their local rural communities and care passionately about supporting and protecting them.
“We are delighted to be involved with this much needed Initiative and hope to play an integral part in its development over the coming years.
“Our young farmers are the present and the future of Cumbria and will play an active and vital role in the development of farming and agriculture in the years to come. Through the support and guidance offered by this Initiative our farming and rural communities and the people who live and work within them will have the opportunity to develop and thrive in a safe and secure environment”.
The aim is that the training will be taken on by the National Federation of young Farmers’ Clubs as one of the modules that is offered to Young Farmers across the UK.
Amanda Mulholland, from the Police Crime Prevention Academy said: “The Academy will be working with the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) to develop a training session in line with existing NFYFC modules and asking local Young Farmers to be involved in piloting the training over the winter and spring on 2022/23.
“The aim is to pass the training onto the NFYFC so that it can become one of a suite of modules that Young Farmers in Cumbria and across the UK can access and put to good use in their local communities.
“The Academy is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Cumbria NWA, Cumbria YFC and the other regional and national partners.
“The launch of this initiative in Cumbria is very timely as it reflects an increasing number of requests being received by the Academy for rural crime training from police and for community organisations.”
The initiative is being supported by national partners including NFU Mutual, Crimestoppers, local partners including Cumbria Police. NFU Mutual are also funding the initiative.
Bob Henderson at NFU mutual said: “Rural crime is expensive and a major worry for Cumbria farmers, so we’re very pleased to be part of this scheme.
“As the UK’s leading rural insurer, we know that when police, farmers and local rural communities work together closely, it can really make it difficult for criminals to steal in the countryside.”
Inspector Scott Adams from Cumbria Constabulary said: “This is a great initiative that we are happy to support, Cumbria is a largely rural county with a large farming community who unfortunately are targeted by criminals due to the demand for equipment.
“There are simple steps that farmers can take to deter criminals from targeting them, this initiative will give people practical actions they can take to protect their property.
“We continue to ask that people report any information or suspicious activity and persons to us within out rural community.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Taking preventative actions to help reduce the risk of being targeted by criminals is a key step in tackling crime.
“By securing our property and making it more difficult for criminals to steal from us, we are less likely to have our possessions taken from us or have our property destroyed.
“The Police do everything in their power to reduce crime in the county, but I always say it is a community effort and we all need to take steps to help ourselves, which is why this initiative has great potential.
“Farmers, and subsequently Young Farmers, know the workings of farms, farm buildings and land better that anyone. By providing the Young Farmers with more training and knowledge to identify risks, they really could make a big difference to rural crime in the county.
“I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot – which I am sure will be a success.”