Not-for-profit website tackles rural crime in Somerset

A new scheme has launched in Somerset to enable businesses to share information and reduce rural crime.

The Somerset West Businesses Against Crime is a not-for-profit organisation.

Founder, Andy Sharman said: "People who target warehouses, farms and schools are very organised and will go from area to area. If we can pre-empt that, it will be positive for businesses."

It is not officially linked to the police but Avon and Somerset police said they support its aims.

'Known offenders'

"Standard membership features a secure intranet site, this will allow participating businesses to share information on suspect vehicles, suspect people and allow us to convey to those businesses as well, known offenders," said Mr Sharman.

A gallery has been created for people to post pictures of items stolen from their premises.

He said information about suspected culprits would be subject to data compliance laws and all the information would be reviewed and shared with police before being posted on the site.

Richard Kelvy, head of CID for Somerset West at Avon and Somerset police said: "We put a great deal of time and effort into our rural crime initiatives, we have an operation running at the moment called Operation Grasp which involves patrolling particular roads at key points.

"We try to encourage businesses to support us by marking their property - quite often they can't give us details of what's been stolen to the degree we need it such as the serial numbers which is really important."

In August insurer NFU Mutual said thefts from farms in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset cost £8.3m in 2010.

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