Friday 24 November 2017 04:43:19 PM

Ministers Deliver Early Christmas Present To Local Farmers To Help Beat Crime
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Justice Minister David Ford and Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today announced a funding package to encourage farmers to fit security devices to their machinery.

Famers in farm theft hotspots across Northern Ireland will have access to support funding to fit Tracker and Cesar security devices which police can use to locate and recover stolen machinery or equipment. The Rural Crime Unit initiative is supported by the Department of Justice  (DOJ), Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), NFU Mutual and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Justice Minister David Ford and Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced a funding package to encourage farmers in farm theft hotspots across Northern Ireland to fit security devices to their machinery which police can use to locate and recover if they are stolen. Included is Chief Superintendent Brian Kee, the PSNI's agricultural crime officer and James McAleenan from NFU Mutal.  Picture: Michael Cooper

Justice Minister David Ford and Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced a funding package to encourage farmers in farm theft hotspots across Northern Ireland to fit security devices to their machinery which police can use to locate and recover if they are stolen. Included is Chief Superintendent Brian Kee, the PSNI’s agricultural crime officer and James McAleenan from NFU Mutal. Picture: Michael Cooper

Announcing details of the scheme, David Ford said: “Farming communities have been hard hit by agri-crime in recent times. The theft of machinery, in some cases particularly high value machinery, is distressing for the victims and can damage the sustainability of farming businesses. Therefore it is important that farmers take steps to protect their farms, their livestock and their machinery. By providing funding support for security devices I hope more farmers will be encouraged to take the steps they need to help protect their property.”

The Justice Minister also highlighted the benefits of partnership working to build safer rural communities, which is a key strand of the Community Safety Strategy.  He said: “Tackling rural crime relies on strong partnership working across and beyond Government, and I welcome the commitment from each of the partners involved in this initiative.

“I would also encourage those living in rural areas to engage with their local Policing and Community Safety Partnerships to ensure their views and needs are reflected in local action plans and to avail of local initiatives to prevent them becoming a victim of this type of crime.”

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Rural crime can have a devastating effect on the victims and the wider rural community, I will continue to work with the Minister of Justice to ensure that tackling rural crime remains a key priority.

“I welcome and support this initiative to attach security devices to farm equipment and encourage farmers to take all practical steps available to them to protect their equipment and their livestock”

NFU Mutual spokesperson NFU Mutual spokesperson James Mc Aleenan said: “As Northern Ireland’s leading rural insurer, we are all too well aware that crime is a serious problem for farmers and I would therefore encourage them to take advantage of this subsidy to help them protect their property by calling telephone number 028 9081 8688.”

Chief Superintendent Brian Kee, the Police Service’s lead on agricultural crime, said: “Increased vigilance and security are key elements in denying criminals an opportunity of stealing machinery or equipment. Criminals are looking to exploit soft targets.  We advise farmers to keep their machinery locked and out of sight when not in use.  In addition, measures such as Cesar and Tracker have been very successful in deterring and detecting criminals. Adding these devices means that equipment is easily identifiable, and recoverable if stolen.  We have had a number of successes in recent months in recovering tractors that were stolen, but had tracking measures fitted.”

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The Rural Crime Unit is a joint initiative between the Department of Justice, NFU Mutual, the PSNI, and DARD to contribute to the rural crime outcomes of the Community Safety Strategy – supporting rural communities and working in partnership with rural groups to prevent and reduce rural crime.

*   TRACKER and CESAR have agreed a discounted rate for farmers, located in E and F policing districts who avail of this subsidy during December and January.

*   DOJ, NFU Mutual and PSNI are funding a further subsidy which will enable the first 200 famers across the districts who sign up for TRACKER to receive a £75 subsidy and the first 100 farmers across these districts who sign up for CESAR to receive a £40 subsidy.

*  E District comprises Armagh, Craigavon, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne.  F District comprises Cookstown, Omagh, Fermanagh, Dungannon and South Tyrone.

*  TRACKER uses cutting edge technology to recover vehicles fast, often within hours, and creates opportunities for stolen vehicles to be identified and located.

*  CESAR is the Construction Equipment Security & Registration Scheme supported by the government and major players in the industry. Datatag ID technology is used to identify plant and equipment to help protect assets.

*  Police Crime Prevention Officers can also advise on a range of security measures.  Information and reports about crime and criminal activity can be given to police by telephoning 0845 600 8000, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the rural crime steering group on 028 9081 868.