Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Farming

Rural crime crisis needs rapid action

Published

on

THE NATIONAL Rural Crime Network (NRCN) has welcomed a report released last Saturday (27 April) by the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee.

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the Network, gave oral evidence to the Committee at Westminster in November on rural crime and its impact.

She spoke about the National Rural Crime Survey’s results and the need for action to be taken to ensure the challenges it showed are addressed by the police, government and other organisations to keep rural communities safe and feeling safe.

The report outlines in stark terms the discrepancy in funding between urban and rural areas. It also calls for a comprehensive rural strategy, more measures to tackle rural criminality and the importance of ensuring a rural voice in Government.

The reported noted that, as in urban areas, crime can have a significant impact on rural businesses, economies and communities. However, the impact in rural areas can be greater, not least because of the isolation of some business properties (including farms), the larger areas and distances for police to cover and a lower police funding per head of population in rural areas than urban areas.

The Rural Crime Network Survey for 2018, which was commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network, a body made up of 30 Police and Crime Commissioners, found a poor perception of policing in rural communities. The survey found that only 27 per cent of 20,000 respondents believed their local police were doing a good job. 69 per cent of farmers and rural-specific business owners have been a victim of crime over the past 12 months and 60 per cent said they were fairly or very worried about being a victim of crime in future.

The monetary impact of rural crime has worsened in recent years, with the Rural Crime Network survey finding that the average cost of a crime to the victim had increased from £4,000 to £4,800 between 2015 and 2018.

Sarah Lee of the Countryside Alliance, who also sits on the board of the National Rural Crime Network, told the Committee that the financial impact of crime on rural businesses averages about £5,000, a potentially significant amount for a small rural business, and an increase of 13 per cent since 2015

Graham Biggs of the Rural Services Network told the Committee the main economic impact from rural crimes comes from the theft of agricultural implements and machinery.

The full cost of rural crimes is being underestimated. By way of example, Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor, the lead for rural crime for the National Police Chiefs’ Council explained that if a harvester is stolen, the cost of the stolen harvester will be recognised through the insurance claim while the cost of a crop not being harvested goes unreported.

Graham Biggs also told us that rural police forces are underfunded and receive less per person funding than urban counterparts.

According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, on average, the 12 most rural police forces receive £100 per head of population compared to £158 for the 12 least rural forces, representing a difference of £58 (37 per cent) less funding for most rural police forces.

Concerns were also expressed over the closure of rural police stations and of some magistrates’ courts that serviced rural areas. Julia Mulligan said “The force I operate in has 11,000 police officers, which is down in the last five years from over 13,000. We are in a position where, with the current budget situation, we will have to cut again next year. We will be a good percentage point down from what our operating model was less than five years ago. Our demand has gone up”

As with other rural services, rural policing faces challenges of distances and sparsity. The Lord Bishop of St Albans commented on the absence of police in rural areas, noting that “if you call the police in a remote rural area there is probably no policeman for 20 or 40 miles”

Among the recommendations in the report:
• ‘The impact of rural crime on rural economies is a significant concern. More needs to be done by Government to better understand, track and respond to rural criminality.’ (recommendation 117)
• ‘We would also like to see new measures introduced [on fly-tipping] to ensure that farmers and land-owners do not have to pay for the cost of clean-up of rubbish that is dumped on their land.’ (recommendation 118)
• ‘Magistrates, Courts and the Crown Prosecution Service should be trained to better understand the scale and impact of rural crime. Reforms to sentencing guidelines should be considered, where appropriate, to widen the range of possible sentences to better reflect the seriousness of some crimes.’ (recommendation 119)

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the National Rural Crime Network and North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “This is a welcome and comprehensive report on all aspects of the rural economy and its impact on those who live and work in the countryside.

“The House of Lords Committee is correct that we need to do more to tackle crime and the fear of crime in rural areas – and ensure the police and other organisations have the resources to do that.

“It reinforces the findings of our National Rural Crime Survey which found the impact of crime – from anti-social behaviour to fly-tipping and speeding – is significant and that action needs to be taken. It is vital the government listens.

“We will continue to fight for rural communities, who should not have to put up with sub-standard services just because of where they live. I hope this report makes a difference because things need to change, and fast.”

Continue Reading

Farming

NFU Mutual Tudy Farms Award

Published

on

NFU Mutual Tidy Farm Award: 2019's winner Gareth Davies with Grandson Aron Davies

THE NFU MUTUAL Tidy Farm Awards will return to Wales for a second year, after a successful launch in 2019. Entries for this year’s awards opened this month and close in March, promoting farm safety and offering cash prizes to farmers who have addressed common hazards on their farm.
The winner of Wales’ tidiest farm will be awarded £1,000, with £500 and £250 awarded to the second and third place entries. Farmers can nominate themselves, or local people can nominate a farm in their area. Family members and friends can also make nominations.
Entries will be judged on eight submitted photographs which show how common farm hazards have been addressed to reduce the risk of an accident.
The photos should show how the farmer:
• Separates their farm and home
• Stores their vehicles, machinery and equipment
• Uses signs and mark routes for delivery
• Fences off dangerous areas
• Minimises the risks of slips, trips and falls
Details of the award and how to apply are on a dedicated page on NFU Mutual’s website: www.nfumutual.co.uk/tidyfarmawards
Entries close on the March 23 and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place at the Royal Welsh Show in July.
The award judges are Stephanie Berkeley, Farm Safety Foundation; Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales; Dan Killingbeck, Sales Consultant at NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Wales; Hedd Pugh, Rural Affairs Board Chairman for NFU Cymru.
The initiative is being supported by NFU Cymru, NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited, the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and the Farm Safety Foundation, the charity set up by NFU Mutual to help farmers work safely.
“The Tidy Farm Awards were set up to recognise farmers who have really gone the extra mile to ensure a safe, tidy and healthy working environment,” said Gwyn Barlow, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales.
“After the competition saw a positive response in 2019, we were keen to re-run the event in 2020 and refresh these vital messages. This year, we’ve extended the number of pictures we will consider per entry from four to eight, giving farmers the best opportunity to showcase what can be done to make farms safer.
“As a mutual insurer which is closely connected with many farms in Wales, we are all too aware of the heartbreak farm accidents cause. Because most farms are homes as well as a workplace, we’re running this award scheme as a reminder that safety should be front of mind for the whole farming family.”
Stephanie Berkeley, who manages the Farm Safety Foundation, said: “Farming and food production play a crucial role in the life and economy of Wales, but every year we have to reluctantly report that agriculture still has the poorest safety record of any occupation here.
Six farm workers lost their lives on Welsh farms in 2018/2019, showing no improvement from the six fatalities in 2017/18. But even one death will always be one too many. All too often, these life-changing and life-ending accidents are avoidable. We know there are farms out there operating safely and efficiently and it’s time to celebrate them and reward those who have created a safe and tidy farm. The Foundation is proud to work with the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and help in their efforts to raise awareness of farm safety and help improve the health and safety of the local farming community.”

Continue Reading

Farming

Mind Your Head

Published

on

Farm Safety Foundation: Calling for greater awareness of mental health challenges

THIS week (Feb 10-14) the Farm Safety Foundation, held their third annual Mind Your Head campaign, to raise awareness of the issues facing farmers today and the link between farm safety and mental health.
A study by the Farm Safety Foundation found that mental health issues among farmers and agricultural workers are of growing concern, and have a direct impact on safety on the farm. 84% of farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest danger facing the industry today, up from 81% in 2018. Meanwhile, 85% of young farmers believe there is a definite link between mental health and the overall safety of farms.
The farming industry faces many stress factors, which are placing increasing pressure on workers and putting them at greater risk of mental ill-health. These include extended amounts of time working in isolation, a blurring between work and home life, and financial uncertainty. Brexit, changing consumer habits, and the climate crisis presenting further threats to the industry.
The total income in the UK from farming decreased by a massive £971 million between 2017 and 2018, and 42% of UK farmers would have made a loss between 2014 and 2017 without direct payments from the EU.
Are all of these issues contributing to poor mental health?
In 2018 there were 83 suicides amongst people working in agricultural and related trades in England and Wales.
This year’s Mind Your Head campaign focussed on the physical and mental wellbeing of an industry under pressure and aims to educate those living and working in the UK’s agricultural communities about the various mental health threats facing them. This year’s campaign aims to bring public attention to issues such as ‘smiling depression’, PTSD, loneliness, rural isolation and mental health in young farmers.
Stephanie Berkeley, Manager of the Farm Safety Foundation said: “It is encouraging to see more discussions about mental health, more awareness of the various mental health conditions and more emphasis on the support available to the farming community; however, more still needs to be done.
“Whilst farmers are often culturally ill-equipped to discuss mental health issues, one of the most effective methods in combating stigma is talking about it. This is what we have been doing and will continue to push.
“It is vital to build a culture within agriculture that explicitly recognises how the job can impact on the wellbeing of farmers and their families and conversely how poor mental health can have a direct and deadly impact on the job. Let’s be clear, this isn’t someone else’s responsibility, this is on our watch and, in these challenging times, it’s down to each and every one of us to look out for our friends, colleagues, neighbours and ourselves.”

Continue Reading

Farming

NRW looks to develop partnerships

Published

on

Making Connections: NRW focuses on cross-sector working

AN EVENT to celebrate collaboration and developing partnerships to meet the growing challenges facing the Welsh environment has taken place at The Senedd.
Hosted by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and sponsored by the Minister for the Environment, Energy, and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths AM, the Making the Connections event focussed on how NRW works with other organisations for a greener, safer and prosperous Wales.
NRW’s Chief Executive Clare Pillman explained: “Each week, indeed every day, we are witnessing new global and national commitments for nature and the environment – and that is both challenging and exciting.
“And I’m glad to see that Wales – and NRW – is at the forefront of making these commitments.
“But of course, we can’t do this alone, to succeed we need to build positive working relationships focussing on customer service and working in collaboration with partners old and new and this is what this event is all about.”
Following keynote speeches by NRW’s Chair Sir David Henshaw, Clare Pillman and the Minister, an informal networking session took place where guests were able to learn more about specific areas of partnership working.
Topics including waste crime, tourism, timber sector, land management, education, health and wellbeing, metal mines, flooding and LIFE projects were represented by organisations as diverse as the Welsh Revenue Authority, Confor, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia National Parks, Met Office, Public Health Wales, Coal Authority, Cardiff County Council and the farming unions.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said: “I am pleased NRW is taking this opportunity to showcase the work they carry out with their partners and for us all to have this opportunity to build networks and new partnerships.
“It is vital we all work together to reverse the effects of climate change and respond to the challenges of the climate emergency.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to thank NRW staff for their ‘expertise and professionalism’ in protecting communities from the effects of climate change, their work to tackle pollution which harms habitats and species and the complex policy and evidence work behind Wales’ drive to achieve net-zero emissions.
The Environment Act makes collaborative working a legal requirement in Wales and the interest in the Making the Connections event demonstrates its importance in developing innovative and sustainable solutions.
In his closing remarks, Sir David Henshaw said: “The challenges we face are considerable but so are the opportunities and we have, amongst us all, is a remarkable wealth of knowledge and ingenuity on what needs to be done.”
“So, our message is straightforward, not only do we want to develop partnerships, we want to make it easy for others to partner with us for the benefit of both the natural environment and for everyone who lives in or visits Wales.”

Continue Reading
News1 day ago

Nine Dyfed-Powys Police officers assaulted in one weekend

NINE Dyfed-Powys Police officers were assaulted in five incidents over the weekend, including a Special Constable who was bitten while...

News2 days ago

Stepaside: Residents group seeks to stop building of 80 houses

A PLANNING application is causing controversy in south Pembrokeshire. Stepaside and Pleasant Valley Residents Group have said that they are...

News2 days ago

Met Office: More rain and flooding warnings for Wales

ALTHOUGH the severe weather associated with Storm Dennis has passed, there is further wet and windy weather to come this...

News3 days ago

Public should ‘be alert’ as flood water causes disruption across Wales

NATURAL RESOURCES WALES is warning people to be alert as flood water causes disruption across Wales. Coastal areas in west...

News6 days ago

Farmer Sean Burns has been given a 20 weeks custodial sentence

THE FARMER behind the ‘farm of horrors’, Bramble Hall Farm, in Pembroke has been sent to prison following a sentencing...

News6 days ago

Rear windscreen smashed, Haverfordwest

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating after a car window was smashed in Haverfordwest. The red Volkswagen Golf was parked in Castle...

News6 days ago

Cabinet recommends 5% Council Tax rise

AT ITS meeting on Monday this week, the Council’s Cabinet decided to recommend a Council Tax rise of 5% for...

News7 days ago

A new future for tourism in Pembrokeshire revealed

OVER the last 12 months the Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership (DPP) – comprising Pembrokeshire Tourism, Pembrokeshire County Council, PLANED and the...

Community1 week ago

Trecadwgan farm to be sold by auction

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has decided to sell Trecadwgan Farm by way of public auction. The Council’s decision has been made...

News1 week ago

Robbery in Narberth – witnesses sought

POLICE are appealing for witnesses to a robbery which took place in Narberth on Wednesday, February 5. A 17-year-old reported...

Popular This Week