Humberside Police has launched a series of new warning signs in a bid to deter criminals as part of its Farmwatch scheme.
Five different external signs have been unveiled, warning potential criminals ‘Beware this is a Farmwatch Area’.
Force Deputy Director for Wildlife Crime, Sergeant Dave Jenkins said: “Farmwatch is going from strength to strength. Since the resurrection of Farmwatch in 2006, results to date for the Force and County are significant. With these signs being created, it gives the Farmwatch members a sense of ownership and also warns any potential criminal they are being watched and not to bother.
“In 2010/11, Humberside Police had the second highest prosecution rate in the Country under the Hunting Act 2004. Reported incidents are now significantly fewer, public confidence in the rural community has been vastly improved and Humberside police are now recognised as one of the leading Forces in the fight against Wildlife crime. I am very pleased The Police and Commissioner Mr Grove, has backed the scheme and paid for the signs. The Farmwatch members are certainly very happy and extremely grateful.
“When a farm or small holding is targeted for plant equipment, wildlife or other high value items, the knock on effect of that crime can be detrimental. If a piece of agricultural equipment was stolen, that means the working farms comes to a halt, the workers can not work, people further down the line do not get their expected product and the insurance claim and renewal costs will be astronomical. Rural communities are often seen as easer targets because of the remote locations they are usually in. Farmwatch is an integral part of Humberside Police’s method to keep rural communities informed, forewarned and protected from potential criminals in the area.
“These signs will be an extra tool to discourage potential criminals coming to the rural parts of Humberside.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove, said: “I have always been a keen supporter of Farmwatch. Since taking office I have seen with my own eyes all they have achieved in reducing crime in their communities at little or no cost but the use of their local knowledge and personal commitment as scheme members. Reducing crime is my number one priority and tackling crime in rural communities needs sustained effort by the community, police, partners and PCC working together. As part of that effort I am delighted to be able to assist Farm Watch by funding these signs which have been manufactured by prisoners at HMP Everthorpe thereby ensuring they put something back into our communities. The message to criminals is clear, we are watching you”
Gordon Calvert said: “The new Farmwatch warning signs are another positive step forward in our affiliation with the Police and partnership working with other enforcement agencies, in our continual efforts to reduce poaching activity and Rural Criminality within our communities”
Farmwatch are most grateful to Mr Grove for his support and the funding of the signs.
The first sign went up at Lakes Farm, Scorborough.
Poaching, hare coursing and theft of plant equipment are just some of the challenges faced by officers working in the rural areas of East Yorkshire so it was hoped that the Farm Watch partnership would help to raise awareness of these problems, lead to fewer opportunities for criminals to cross over the border into our area to commit such crimes and also promote quicker reporting should a crime occur which could help to catch those involved before they leave our area.
Humberside Police wanted to send a strong message out that poaching will not be tolerated and poachers will get caught.
In 2009 the East Riding was the first county to set up a county wide Farmwatch which is an extremely useful tool to the police.
Farmwatch is the equivalent of Neighbourhood Watch only it does not use the cascade system to inform its members, it uses a direct approach to each member.
If a farmer sees something suspicious or a poaching crime has been committed a text message will be sent to all Farmwatch members to stay vigilant and where applicable check on their livestock, wildlife and land.
The scheme is also used to inform the police of intelligence and other suspicious activities taking place.
For example on Monday 12 July 2010, the police, Trading Standards and HM Customs enforced a search warrant on a lock up on a farm in Skipsea. Following the search warrant 325kg of rolling tobacco was recovered from the lock up with a street value of £30,000. Customs were left to make further enquiries.
This is the second very big result the police have had directly from information received via Farmwatch. The other successful raid was in October last year which resulted in the recovery of two stolen trailers, two stolen 4x4’s and a stolen quad bike.
Officers use the Farmwatch network along with overt and covert poaching operations to send a strong message out to any potential poachers or criminals preparing to come into the area, it will not be tolerated and you will be dealt with accordingly.
Farmwatch is going from strength to strength. Farmers who want more information or wish to join the county wide scheme can contact their local Neighbourhood Policing Team and they will be able to connect them with their closest Farmwatch Team.