Farmers believe crime on increase

Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 01:00

More than one in 10 farm families have been the victims of crime in the past year according to a survey by the Irish Farmers Association.

The survey of more than 500 farmers found that almost half believed the level of crime in their parish had increased in the past 12 months.

While almost 60 per cent said there was no change in their sense of security, more than 37 per cent said they felt less safe in their homes now than they did one year ago.

IFA president John Bryan said the level of rural crime recorded in the survey was at variance with recent comments that crime levels were dropping. He questioned whether some victims of crime were reporting the incidents.

“Communications by the Garda, especially in keeping in touch with victims and reporting back with updates on progress, needs to be improved,” Mr Bryan said.

Some 54 per cent of survey respondents said they were either dissatisfied or totally dissatisfied with the efforts of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, to protect rural communities.

“The Minister for Justice needs to toughen up the fight to ensure that the level of rural crime is reduced and that the people living in the country’s 440,000 rural households feel safer in their homes and businesses,” he said.

The research found that almost 43 per cent of farmers had joined a Neighbourhood Watch or Community Alert group in the past year. More than 38 per cent had installed outdoor security lighting while one in five had installed burglar alarms. The same number had erected security gates.

Earlier this year, Muintir na Tíre, which runs the Community Alert scheme said it had noted a “dramatic increase” in calls from people seeking information about setting up schemes and keeping their homes and farms safe.

There are 1,400 schemes around the state and a further 40 new groups were set up last year while 34 others were reactivated.

Mr Bryan said there was “a massive bank of support” among farm families to help make their communities safer. Some 83 per cent said they would be prepared to join in a voluntary community alert texting service alert programme.

IFA and Muintir na Tíre have made proposals to the Garda on a voluntary texting service that would involve people alerting neighbours by text when they see suspicious activity. He encouraged the authorities to harness the goodwill of rural people in fighting crime as available resources continued to tighten.

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