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Action Needed To Lower Rural Crime

25 October 2004 PR 195/04

Action Needed To Lower Rural Crime

The high incidence of theft and other crimes on farms shows that greater resources should go toward crime prevention in rural areas, said Don Nicolson, a National Board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"There is a real need for more research to provide an in-depth look at crime in rural New Zealand, and explore the best ways it can be reduced," Mr Nicolson said.

The Federation last year carried out a random electronic survey of members to seek feedback on crime in rural New Zealand. The results gave a disturbing snapshot of its prevalence in rural New Zealand:
- 56% of respondents had reported at least one on-farm crime incident to police over the previous five years. Predominantly the crimes were theft related. 40% of the respondents said they thought rural crime was increasing in their area;
- 38% of respondents said their security had been breached by theft or confrontation, but they had not informed police;
- 82% of respondents said that to some degree they would take action to defend their property against crime irrespective of police action.

"The cost of these incidents is not only financial. Crime also has a social impact on rural families and their communities," Mr Nicolson said.
Police response times in rural areas were also questioned by the survey. In nearly a quarter of incidents, police took over a day to arrive at the property in response to a call.

"There is also concern among rural families about the potential implications of increasing public access to private land if it means that criminals are given 'free reign' over personal property, machinery and livestock on farms," Mr Nicolson said.

Stock theft is a growing problem for farmers. One Otago farmer estimated he had lost up to $300 000 worth of livestock in the past 18 months.

"Adequate resources and legislative backup should be provided to rural communities to enable them to defend themselves, their stock and property in situations where geographical isolation delays police from attending," Mr Nicolson said

ENDS

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