South East Wales

Farm-related crime in Gwent area drops nearly 30%

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Media captionAllan Mills, the Gwent Police Farm Watch coordinator, explains to farmers how the scheme works

Farm related crime across the Gwent Police area has reduced by almost 30% in the last year.

Officers say it's because hundreds of people are now involved in a scheme called Farm Watch.

It is part of a system known as the Online Watch Link (OWL), which sends out targeted messages via email, phone or SMS alerts about crimes and problems to its members.

The scheme also allows farmers to contact each other to raise awareness.

Gwent Police say membership has increased in the last 12 months because there is now a full-time dedicated Farm Watch coordinator helping drive the project.

It has helped increase Farm Watch membership by 400% in the last year to over 800 members.

'Double the numbers'

It has seen rural crime, including machinery, farming vehicle and cattle thefts, being reduced by 27%.

Allan Mills, the Gwent force co-ordinator said: "It's important to the community, the majority of the farmers know me, they shake hands with you, they tell you different information.

"It's vitally important, they have a face and name they can come back to, they are getting a better personal service.

"I would love to double the numbers, people can see the real benefit of it."

Image caption Farmers are often isolated and hard to reach, according to the police commissioner

Steve Powell owns two farms in Monmouthshire also welcomed the initiative.

"We have a local police man who comes around, he has got us all talking and if someone is suspicious everyone rings each other. It does help, it seems as though crime has gone down since working together," he said.

Farm Watch schemes operate in north Wales and across south-west and mid Wales, where police forces have also recorded drops in farm-related crime.

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