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Scheme to combat livestock rustling will be rolled out across UK

So-called Ewe Hostels which have been trialed in Lancashire and bring together diverse organisations to combat livestock theft are to be replicated nationally.
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At this week’s National Rural Crime Seminar in Kettering, Matthew Scott, chief claims manager at NFU Mutual, signed an agreement with National Police Chiefs’ Council rural crime lead Chief Constable Simon Prince to roll out the scheme.

 

NFU Mutual estimated rustling was costing more than £6 million a year.

 

“Livestock theft can leave breeding programmes in tatters and production disrupted for years, not to mention the welfare of the animals,” Mr Scott told the seminar.

 

Also known as the Lancashire Livestock Initiative, Ewe Hostels is the brainchild of Lancashire farmer John Taylor. It involves the NFU, NFU Mutual, Lancashire police, auction markets, farmers and other organisations in identifying livestock when there are suspicions and caring for them if they are found to be stolen.

 

Police have been trained in identification, handling, paperwork and fitting evidence tags to animals. If the animals need to be retained, nearby auction markets and farmers are selected from a database of organisations which have offered to provide care and accommodation.

 

It has already resulted in two prosecutions with custodial sentences and a ’huge reduction’ in livestock thefts.

 

“This is an example of innovative thinking and excellent collaborative working within the whole community,” Mr Scott said.

 

“Since 2010 livestock theft has re-emerged to plague farmers after a long period of dormancy. The scale of the crime has changed. We’re now seeing hundreds of sheep being stolen from farms.

 

“In the past, farmers have had few effective means to deter and bring determined livestock thieves to justice and police haven’t had the facilities to identify or handle livestock when they are recovered. There’s now the opportunity for this initiative to be utilised by other UK police forces that need support to tackle this crime."

 

He added strong intelligence links across police forces were essential in bringing criminals operating across the UK to justice, along with swift reporting and attendance and comprehensive forensics.

 

“People living in the country know more than most what’s happening in their surroundings,” he said.

 

“We can use this information to harness the power of crime fighting groups.

 

“I ask policy makers to consider the actions that will most effectively create partnerships with the local population and ensure the capture and circulation of so much good intelligence.”

 

Key rural crime statistics

  • Tractor thefts are running at nearly half the 2010 peak, but thieves targeted the eastern counties in the latter part of 2015
  • Nationwide, thieves are not only targeting new tractors, but also smaller and older models which have a higher value in less-developed countries and are easier and less conspicuous to move around
  • Easy to steal and sell for a quick return, quads and all-terrain vehicles continue to be the target choice for many thieves
  • Tractor GPS guidance component thefts are back. These relatively low cost items, typically worth £5,000-£15,000, are marketable worldwide
  • Since Land Rover ceased production of Defenders at the end of January theft claims have increased by 8 per cent UK-wide. Matthew Scott said: “It seems Defenders and their parts are becoming more valuable as the vehicle gains ‘classic’ status. With Land Rovers used right across the globe, there’s a growing international market for parts. We’ve raised the issue through the media and our own publications to encourage Land Rover Defender owners to look at their security measures.”

Source: NFU Mutual


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