The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police is to take questions from farmers at a rural crime prevention event organised by the UK’s leading rural insurer NFU Mutual.

Sarah Crew will be at Frome Market on Wednesday, 28th June for a question-and-answer session - as concerns grow about offences in the countryside and the losses and damage suffered by farmers.


The event has been organised by NFU Mutual Senior Agent Andrew Smith and Agent Heather Wareham, who are also local Group Secretaries with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).


Andrew said he expected a number of issues to be raised including hare coursing, a major problem in parts of Somerset and neighbouring Wiltshire where gangs release lurchers to chase hares, often betting on the outcome.  Hare coursing is illegal but is still practised by criminal gangs who often cause significant damage to farmland and terrorise farmers who challenge them.


Avon and Somerset Police have purchased a drone to help in the fight against hare coursing and other rural crime.  NFU Mutual Bath are buying the batteries for the drone, which can be used to keep illegal hare coursers under surveillance and gather film evidence for potential prosecutions.


Andrew said: “If the coursers are driving a 4x4 and the police turn up in a car, they cannot always pursue them across fields and the criminals can escape through a gate and get away.  A drone can keep them under surveillance, alert other units, and gather evidence.”


The crime prevention event is expected to attract a large number of farmers who will be attending the regular livestock sale at Frome Market, which is situated at an out-of-town site just off the A36 in the village of Standerwick, close to the Wiltshire-Somerset border.


Livestock trailer data tagging will be carried out free-of-charge and tagged trailers will have notices stuck on them to warn would-be thieves the vehicles can easily be identified and their true owners traced if they are stolen.


Andrew said: “Thieves cannot remove the micro-dots put on with data-tagging and once the details are linked to a database, the owner of any trailer that is stolen can easily be traced.”  He said research had shown data tagged trailers that were clearly marked were much less likely to be stolen.


Rural Affairs Unit Sgt Katie Maun from Avon and Somerset Police said: "The Q&A session will offer the rural community the opportunity to put questions to the Chief about rural crime, an important topic for the Chief and the Police and Crime Commissioner.”


"Trailer marking is an important crime prevention method to safeguard trailers and machinery which is often targeted by criminals. The trailer marking kits act as a deterrent to thieves but also make identifying the owners of property more likely." She added.


The free data tagging service for livestock trailers starts at 9.00am. The Chief Constable will take questions from 11.30am until 12.15pm.