NEIL Hamilton, Leader of UKIP Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is backing a new initiative aimed at cracking down on crime in rural areas.

He is supporting a new service, launched by the NFU, for farmers and the public to give information anonymously about rural crime, in partnership with the charity Crime Stoppers

The ‘Rural Crime Reporting Line’ is part of the Union’s ongoing work to tackle the serious issues surrounding criminal behaviour on farms and in the wider countryside.

Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is now urging farmers and people living in the countryside to use the service.

He said:“I welcome this latest initiative and congratulate NFU Cymru for all the hard work they are doing to tackle and highlight crime in rural areas.

“Last month, as a result of a new Rural Strategy, which committed to identifying named points of contact for rural crime matters and developing the specialist rural skills and knowledge of its officers, Dyfed-Powys Police formed a new rural team.

“I was delighted to see this new Rural Team being formed as it is vital people living in remote communities are given the right protection and offered the advice they need.

“I very much welcome this latest initiative and hope anyone in the agricultural community or living in the countryside, who notices anything or witnesses a crime, will use this service to report any crimes.”

NFU Cymric Rural Affairs, Chairman Heed Pugh, said NFU Cymru has been working closely with Dyfed-Powys Police and was instrumental in the setting up of a dedicated rural crime unit within the task force.

He said: “As a union, we have been consistently leading on engaging with MPs, government and police to help begin to put a stop to these destructive crimes. Nearly a year on from releasing our Rural Crime Report, the Union has brought this issue to the forefront of its activity and we continue to call on the Government to form a cross-departmental task force to focus on rural crime and address the failures in dealing with it.”

Crime stoppers’ Director of Business Development Rodger Holden said: “The NFU should be applauded for launching the Rural Crime Reporting Line in partnership with the charity Crime stoppers, on behalf of all farmers and their communities.  This is a joined up initiative, supported by law enforcement, that strives to reduce and detect crimes that directly threaten people’s livelihoods, their peace of mind, and are a real cost to us all. We all have a responsibility to support the countryside by working together to combat criminal activity.”

By ringing 0800 783 0137 or visiting www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk, farmers, rural businesses and the public can anonymously give information about crime relating to: large-scale, industrial fly-tipping; hare coursing; machinery or livestock theft.

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