Local farmers encouraged to sign up to 'Farmwatch'

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Local farmers are being encouraged to sign up to a new police scheme to help drive down rural crime across Teignbridge and south Dartmoor.

Teignbridge neighbourhood policing team has set up the new Farmwatch scheme to help prevent and detect rural thefts and burglaries.

As part of the initiative farmers will receive information and crime warnings for their local area through the Force Community Messaging system, and will be assisted by police to better secure their property and premises against crime.

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The launch of Farmwatch comes in response to ongoing thefts of livestock, machinery and equipment from farms and small holdings in Teignbridge and south Dartmoor areas.

The scheme is free to join and is open to all farmers, owners of small holdings or anyone involved in the rural community.

Sergeant Mark Ruston, neighbourhood team leader, said: “The aim of Farmwatch is to reduce and prevent rural crime as well as to build beneficial relationships between the police and the rural community.

“Like Neighbourhood Watch the scheme encourages members to be sensible about their own security and to look out for each other, especially any vulnerable members of the community.

“Police are able to send alerts via email or phone to the farming communities about crimes that have occurred in their area so that they can check their security arrangements.

“Likewise if farmers have noticed any suspicious activity in the area which may be connected to these crimes, they can provide us with vital information.

“Farmwatch can also help us to find out what is important to the farming community, what their policing priorities are and what else we can do as local officers to support them.”

PC Sharon Kerridge-Smith, neighbourhood beat manager for east Teignbridge, is the driving force behind Farmwatch and has written to 775 farms and small holdings over the last month to encourage them to join.

“This is just a quarter of the farms in our area and the team is now working on capturing information about all other farms in the area which may benefit from Farmwatch,” added Sergeant Ruston.

Through the scheme, police will provide those in isolated locations with practical advice about good security measures such as property marking, lighting and alarm systems.

The policing team is already visiting the farms who have responded positively to Farmwatch to security mark plant and equipment.

Anyone interested in joining the scheme can email the local policing team via:Teignbridge@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.ukquoting ‘Farmwatch’ and the team will be in touch.

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