The Bill has now gained Royal Assent, giving the Home Secretary the power to make regulations that deter the theft and resale of Quads and ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles).
NFU Vice President David Exwood welcomed the news, describing the legislation as a “big step forward in protecting Britain’s farms”. He thanked Greg Smith, Lord Blencathra and the Home Office for working together on the detail of the Bill.
“Quads are often one of the main things that attract criminals onto farms which often leads to further thefts. But if these new powers can deter criminals in the first instance, I hope they will drive a reduction in further instances of rural crime,” he added.
Reducing rural crime
This year has seen a huge uptick in rural crime incidents, with NFU Mutual's 2022 Crime Report indicating that the cost of rural crime has risen by more than 40% in the first quarter, with Quad and ATV theft totalling £2.2m in the previous year.
Shipping delays and the effects of Covid and Brexit are contributing to a rise in demand for both new and second-hand farm machinery. As waiting lists grow and market values soar, thieves are seeing quads and ATVs as expensive, easily portable, hot ticket items with a ready resale market in this country and abroad.
The NFU has been working closely with the Home Office on the new Bill, along with NFU Mutual, and other key stakeholders, as well as facilitating meetings between insurers, police leaders, security companies and manufacturers to identify solutions.
What does the Bill cover?
The key provisions the Bill will facilitate are:
These are electronic devices that will only allow the engine to run if the correct key or key fob is present, which will protect the vehicle from ‘hot-wiring’ as well as deterring thieves.
Markers remain hidden on vehicles, but can be identified under UV light or in some cases contain a unique code that can be read by scanners, giving the police powerful evidence to link stolen vehicles to their owners.
This would give further support to the police, when they are trying to reunite stolen vehicles with their owners.
Equipment theft on the rise
“We know the role that measures such as forensic marking, registration and immobilisation play in preventing crime and we have a huge opportunity to protect farmers and tradespeople through this legislation,” said NFU Mutual’s Engineering Lead on Rural Crime, Bob Henderson.
The new legislation comes at a time when “we are seeing an increase in theft of vital equipment and machinery,” Mr Henderson added.
The NFU would like to see the scope of the Bill widened in secondary legislation to include other agricultural equipment, with the theft of GPS systems, tractors and trailers reportedly costing NFU Mutual £9.1 million in 2021.