Nick Alston attended the Ernest Doe Agricultural Show in Maldon on February 4, talking with farmers, other rural business people and Essex Police Crime Prevention Officers about rural crime issues and roads safety.
Mr Alston says, “I would like to thank the organisers, Ernest Doe for inviting Essex Police to contribute to the event. I was delighted to speak with farmers and members of the rural community.
“As the PCC, I’m committed to ensuring that rural and business crime and Roads safety are given due weight by Essex Police. This was a great opportunity to hear the views of farmers first hand. I heard some good stories about Essex Police’s work in rural areas but also learned more about some continuing crime challenges.”
Members of the Essex Police Crime Prevention Team attended the event including Stephen Armson-Smith. He has some thoughts on how rural crime can be reduced further. “One key message to farmers would be to help by securing property and vehicles by using recognised agricultural trackers such as Datatags and Sold Secure.”
To enable members of the rural community to share information quickly, there is a service called Farmwatch. Brenda Cross, an Essex Police Watch Liaison Officer helps run the scheme. “Farmwatch is run by email and anyone can join including farmers and local residents. At the moment, 2,000 Essex farmers are on the system, and we would welcome members of the public joining the scheme too; this would help to build even more intelligence on rural crime.”
Another problem affecting rural communities is hare coursing; an activity which involves chasing hares with greyhounds or similar breeds.
Mr Armson-Smith comments, “This type of activity, run for gambling, destroys crops causes criminal damage and can encourage criminality. It can be highly intimidating and greatly disrupt farmers’ lives.”
The PCC said, “Concerns about hare coursing have been raised at the regular rural crime forums that I hold. I am encouraging Essex Police to continue to work closely with farmers to tackle this issue.”
One of the key areas of focus in the Police and Crime Plan for Essex is improving road safety. Nick Alston added, “I was pleased to see the Road Traffic Officers from the Casualty Reduction Unit present at the Doe Show. It’s important that the police and communities work together to keep rural roads as safe as they can be.”
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