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Wiltshire Farmer and Lib Dem Prospective Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate, calls for a efforts to combat organised rural crime

August 13, 2020 9:00 AM
By Ed Sawyer
Originally published by Liberal Democrats in Wiltshire

Liz Webster with Cows in FieldNorth Wiltshire Farmer and Lib Dem Prospective Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate, Liz Webster has called for a major efforts to combat organised rural crime including the introduction of an affordable, national DNA database for all livestock

Her call comes ‎as shocking new figures from farm insurance specialists NFU Mutual show thefts from Wiltshire farms doubling in a year to £1m.

"As a Wiltshire farmer I am fully aware that rural crime has been on the increase in our County. The figures from the NFU Mutual insurance company confirm this.

The loss of key equipment vital to farm operations is bad enough, but this serious criminal activity raises worse risks such as the death of PC Harper following his brave attempt to frustrate the theft of a Quadbike.

For farmers the ‎theft of our livestock is in many ways even worse than the loss of equipment. There is not only a financial loss but also a big emotional impact.

It takes years to establish herds and flocks and not knowing what has happened to the animals we look after is very distressing." Said Liz Webster

She added, "‎The criminals attacking our farms and livestock are organised gangs, just like drug dealers and people traffickers. The animals stolen by these gangs enter our food chain through the black market and that undermines welfare and food safety standards posing a serious threat to us all.

While I welcome moves to strengthen Wiltshire Police's rural crime team and want support for our self-help "Farm Watch" made a priority, Government must now take organised, rural crime far more seriously‎.

We need national solutions for example the introduction of an affordable DNA livestock database would enable the "track and trace"‎ of all meat. That would put both a serious barrier in the way of this crime.

We also need proper protection‎ and real resources to tackle this rural crime wave. Our farmers, food chain and police officers deserve‎ nothing less."