Strong action needed to combat rural crime

No matter where I’ve travelled across the state in the last 12 months, rural crime has been a burning issue.

Livestock theft is at its highest reported level since 2013 and there has been a spike in illegal hunting incidents. These are often associated with vandalism or the theft of machinery and fuel.

This sort of crime isn’t glamorous, and won’t make the city papers. But it has an economic impact on farm businesses. Beyond the hip pocket, it goes to the sanctity of the home and the security of families. There is much at stake.

Unsurprisingly, this is why rural crime was such a prominent issue at last week’s NSW Farmers Annual Conference, where members called for an increased police presence on country roads and an improved ability for police to attend out-of-hours calls in rural areas. They also called for the introduction of a mandatory minimum fine for trespass of $5500, and the ability for police to confiscate animals and equipment associated with trespass.

Farmers are frustrated at what they believe to be an inability for police to respond to reports of rural crime in a timely manner. They are also dismayed by how few investigations translate into prosecutions or meaningful penalties. 

The current penalties associated with trespass, stock theft and illegal hunting are inadequate and do not act as a deterrent to illegal activity. They bear no correlation to the impact on farming families and their businesses.

The NSW Government is currently considering the recommendations of a review into trespass, stock theft and illegal hunting conducted by former Assistant Commissioner Stephen Bradshaw. The review heard from hundreds of farmers across the state in a series of passionate town hall meetings organised and promoted by local NSW Farmers’ branches. The need to change the way that we deal with rural crime is clear. The Association now calls on the government to take strong action.

Contact: NSW Farmers

Phone: 1300 794 000

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