“No Cold Callers” scheme launched to combat rural crime and protect South West farmers

© Guy Newman/Rekord Media. 07.10.2019. Front L-R Ros Hills NFU Mutual Regional Manager & Martin Beck Rural Affairs Police Officer launch the ‘No Cold Callers’ campaign with L-R rear Phoebe Ridley (NFU Mutual) David Keys and Maria Endean (Trading Standards) and Chris Collins (Rural Affairs Police Officer).

Posted on: 10 October 2019

Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service and leading rural insurer NFU Mutual have joined forces to launch a campaign to tackle “cold calling” criminals at farms across the region.

Devon and Cornwall Police’s rural affairs officers are working in partnership with Trading Standards officials and NFU Mutual representatives to help protect farmers from would-be criminals who “cold call” at farms to stake out whether there is something worth stealing.

NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime report revealed that the theft of agricultural vehicles cost the UK £7.4 million in 2018, with quad/ATV thefts costing £2.6 million; an increase on the previous year.

As part of the scheme, farmers are being offered a striking sign to display at the entrances to their farms warning cold callers and rogue traders to stay away and bearing the slogan, “We won’t buy from you, we won’t sell to you”.

PC Martin Beck, Rural Affairs Officer for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “A notable cause for fear among rural communities across the South West is the threat of itinerant criminals who tour the countryside on the lookout for opportunities to steal, often turning up in white vans or tipper trucks, looking for items to buy such as batteries or metal, or to offer the removal of such waste.
“Such criminals can be very insistent and intimidating, and may be scoping out the layout of the farm trying to spot items worth stealing. Refusal to engage with the cold caller can lead to threats of violence towards the landowner. Fear of crimes like this can exacerbate feeling of isolation among farmers and the health and wellbeing of rural residents.”

In addition to being offered crime prevention advice and support by police officers, farmers are also invited to become part of the police’s community messaging and Farm Watch initiatives.

If threats are made, the police can record the incident and escalate the Anti-Social Behaviour process. This gives the police an opportunity to engage with the offender to encourage them to stop this behaviour and if they do not, we can apply to the Court for a Criminal Behaviour Order.

Ros Hills, South West Regional Manager for NFU Mutual, said: “The feeling of being ‘staked out’ and reports of suspicious characters visiting farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location can make them vulnerable. “Some farmers are so concerned about the risk of rural crime, they feel they can no longer leave the farm unattended which can add to feelings of isolation.
“There’s no doubt that when police, farmers and other organisations work together on rural crime initiatives they get results which is why we would urge farmers to display the cold caller sign and share information about suspicious sightings with their local Farm Watch scheme.”

Maria Endean, Trading Standards Officer for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards said: “We know many farmers especially in remote areas can get anxious when they are targeted by unwanted cold callers. That’s why we are working closely with the Police and NFU Mutual on this project to show farmers and rural communities that they are not alone, there is support and we are there to help.”

For more information More about Farm Watch visit the Devon and Cornwall Cornwall Police website here.

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