28 August 2023

New community campaign to help reduce crimes against farmers in rural NSW

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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two cows in a paddock

A statewide rural crime campaign has been launched to address the ongoing issues surrounding rural crimes in the community. Photo: pixdeluxe.

A new statewide campaign is calling on the community to ramp up the reporting of rural crime.

Crime Stoppers NSW and the NSW Police Force Rural Crime Prevention Team have launched a new campaign to address the ongoing issues surrounding rural crime, with the aim of solving and preventing further crime.

NSW Police said 81 per cent of the state’s farmers experienced stock and fuel theft crimes, illegal hunting and trespassing, as crime in rural NSW continued to remain high.

The farmers experience severe financial, physical and psychological issues due to the high crime rate, which has a follow-on effect on the wider Australian economy.

While the crime rates remain high, the reporting of them remains extremely low.

Police said the crimes could not be solved without the reporting of incidents.

Crime Stoppers NSW have established a Rural Crime Advisory Group that allows community consultation on initiatives to prevent and solve rural crime.

The advisory group includes the Rural Crime Prevention Team, Centre for Rural Criminology UNE, NSW Farmers Association, Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Livestock & Transporters Association, Livestock, Bulk & Rural Carriers Association, and the County Women’s Association.

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Police said there were several barriers faced by victims when it came to reporting crime, including the retrieval of stolen items and concern around retaliation.

Other barriers included the level of confidence in what could be done and difficulty in implementing prevention measures.

The campaign hopes to address the barriers faced by farmers by including a Police Assistance Line (PAL) at the local police station, by people working with Crime Stoppers and via triple zero for emergencies.

Crime Stoppers NSW CEO Peter Price said it was difficult to build resilience and infrastructure if people were in the dark about crimes experienced by farmers.

“Being a victim of crime and reporting the crime, matters. If police don’t know about the crime, they can’t do anything,” Mr Price said.

“The more information reported, the better equipped the police are to act to prevent or solve a crime.

“If we all work together, the result will be a better, more prosperous future, and safer and healthier communities.”

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The State Rural Crime Coordinator of the NSWPF Rural Crime Prevention Team, Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Whiteside, said underreporting of rural crime continued to be a major problem in helping police prevent and solve crime.

“We need a whole of community approach to reduce and solve crime in regional areas and there are some measures that individuals can do to help prevent crime from happening to them,” said Detective Chief Insp Whiteside.

Farmers are being urged to keep photos of valuable stock to assist with identifying them, accurately record livestock identification, install quality locking devices on their gates, and remove keys from machinery, sheds and equipment.

The NSW Police Force Firearms Registry will provide firearms safe storage guidance to rural firearms licence holders. All firearms owners should register their guns using the Gun Safe Customer Portal.

The campaign has the tagline ‘Be a pal and report any theft anytime’. NSW Police and Crime Stoppers are urging the community to report to PAL on 131 444 and report suspicious or criminal information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers online.

More information on prevention measures for farmers can be found here.

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