The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) have made the call for a county wide RCAT as their farmer, grower and landowner members are increasingly concerned over hare coursing, machinery and plant theft, deer coursing and other rural crimes.
The NFU’s Lincolnshire county advisers, Rhonda Thompson and Danny O’Shea, said:
“For a few years we saw a real focus on hare coursing by Lincolnshire Police and a very real reduction in incidents. But, since lockdown eased, we’ve seen a big increase in not only the number of incidents across the county but also the severity.
“The aggression our members face, sometimes on a daily basis, from these criminals is unacceptable and something needs to change.
“There’s increasing concern on the ground that, unless something changes immediately, it won’t be long until we’re back to the ‘wild west’ scenario we used to hear about.
“As members will be well aware, we’ve forged strong relationships with the police on a local and county wide level over the past four years and we’re determined that we continue to work together to tackle this growing problem.
“We’ve previously talked at length about preventative measures such as the need to change legislation to allow forces to seize dogs and recover the costs of kennelling them. But we also need to see boots on the ground; police turning up to incidents, chasing down hare coursers (and other offenders) and prosecuting wherever possible.
“In recent weeks members have reported the police turning up to more incidents, chasing suspected offenders and not giving in until they were arrested - this has to be commended. In order to see this level of support continue we need to see more investment in resources as well as specialist training.
“This is why the NFU and CLA have come together to call on Lincolnshire Police to urgently invest in a dedicated Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT). The newly-appointed Chief Constable has responded and is currently considering the request. As soon as we know more we’ll be back in touch.”
CLA East regional surveyor Alison Provis said:
“Rural crime is of significant concern to our members who are a range of farmers, landowners and rural businesses. All too often we hear of hare coursing, machinery theft and other rural crimes that have a financial and emotional cost to the victims. Violence, aggression and intimidation towards the victims is also common and totally unacceptable.
“By having a dedicated Rural Crime Action Team we can ensure that the Lincolnshire Constabulary is providing a level of resource that will enable criminal activity in the countryside to be prioritised and tackled head on, and those dealing with incidents understand rural crime and its impact on communities.
“Lincolnshire is a largely rural county so a team of this nature would bring significant benefits and help protect those who live and work there. We are pleased to have joined together with the NFU to request Lincolnshire Police provide resource for a dedicated rural crime team and look forward to hearing from Chief Constable Haward on this further.”