Tackling rural crime on Stormont agenda
JUSTICE Minister David Ford has outlined a range of measures designed to tackle rural crime - with the theft of two tractors earlier this month the latest example of how the issue affects the Roe Valley.
Two tractors were stolen from the Dernaflaw area of Dungiven last week. The value of the stolen farming equipment has been estimated at £60,000 – twice the sum paid for houses in areas such as Ballykelly in recent times.
Now, Justice Minister David Ford has spoken at Stormont on the work he is doing with the Minister of Agriculture to combat rural crime.
He said: “Reducing opportunities to commit crime and make our rural communities safer is a key strand of the community safety strategy. My Department has been working with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and other statutory and non-statutory partners at a number of levels.
“We have established a regional steering group for community safety, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the community safety strategy, including the development and implementation by a range of delivery groups of action plans to take forward each strand of the strategy.
“DARD officials are represented on this regional steering group, which, at its December meeting, signed off all the action plans. Those action plans, which include details of actions to reduce rural crime, have been forwarded to the Committee for Justice for its consideration.
“The benefits of what partnership working can deliver on the ground was evidenced on 5 December when the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill, and I jointly launched the new Crimestoppers campaign aimed at tackling rural crime and the fear of crime.
“The campaign encourages rural communities to be vigilant, provides advice on crime prevention measures and encourages the reporting of criminal activity. This campaign was the result of partnership working not only between my Department and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development but with partners from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Mutual, the Police Service, Crimestoppers, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Northern Ireland Water.
“The campaign will complement initiatives that I have previously outlined and which are being delivered at a local level by policing and community safety partnerships (PCSPs) to prevent and reduce rural crime.
“My Department is also represented on the interdepartmental group on the rural White Paper action plan and provides updates on progress on delivery of our commitments to ensure that the needs of rural communities are reflected in the community safety strategy and in policing and community safety partnerships’ action plans.”
Mid Ulster MLA Ian McCrea, however, pointed out to the Minister that “Northern Ireland differs from area to area and that not every piece of work will be relevant to each area”, before asking: “Will he assure the House and, indeed, people who live in rural communities that everything is being done to combat rural crime? Will he join me in encouraging people to ensure that their equipment and their farms are as secure as possible?”
The Minister replied: “I endorse Mr McCrea’s comments. A lot of very positive action is being taken by the police and PCSPs in different parts of Northern Ireland, especially on things such as marking farm tractors, trailers and other machinery, and on a variety of issues around the Farmwatch theme. A significant amount of work is being done.
“One of the key benefits from PCSPs is their ability to target what is appropriate for their local community and meet the needs that are put to them. If individuals have specific suggestions about improving crime prevention in their areas, PCSPs are proving that they are up to the task of carrying that forward.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
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