Representatives of the NFU and the CLA met with Surrey Police deputy chief constable Nev Kemp and the rural policing team, on Friday 8 October at Lodge Farm, South Holmwood, near Dorking, courtesy of farmer Ed Ford.
Discussions on legislative changes to combat dog attacks on livestock and tackle the scourge of hare coursing were upbeat. But the two organisations raised serious concerns about organised crime, notably the theft of high tech, high value GPS kits that are shipped abroad by criminal networks and sold in Europe.
NFU South East Regional Director William White said: “The theft of expensive GPS systems by organised criminals is sadly fast becoming a regular occurrence. We’re sharing with our farmer and grower members tips to help them avoid being targeted by criminals, as this type of crime is highly disruptive to farming operations, given the delays in replacing stolen kit.
“We heard how Surrey Police has recognised the impacts of these GPS thefts and has changed its protocols for response to this type of crime.
“We were also relieved to hear that a new transit camp in the county for travellers is under discussion with Surrey County Council, to help ease the problem of illegal encampments.”
Tim Bamford, CLA South East Regional Director, who chaired the meeting, said: “It was a positive and well-attended meeting which highlighted the very real impact crime has on rural businesses and communities across Surrey. We covered the rising number of thefts of equipment and GPS systems, livestock worrying, hare coursing and the force’s resources. Surrey Police says it is keen to act quicker and improve how it reports back to victims and those affected by rural crime, which we welcome.
“The CLA is committed to working with our partners to help tackle rural crime, and we urge farmers, businesses and the wider public to report all incidents so that police can build up a more complete picture and then allocate appropriate resources.”
Farmers and landowners expressed frustration at the variable police response to crime such as livestock worrying, the theft of quad bikes and illegal encampments in the county. The meeting concluded with a discussion about rural policing and the number of dedicated officers.