Hay, here comes the farm police

By Ewen McRae

Local farmers will soon have a dedicated law enforcement team to call upon, following an announcement by the state government last week.

The government is working with Victoria Police to create a specialised farm crime unit that will work across Victoria targeting farm crime, including livestock and equipment theft.

The Farm Crime Coordination Unit will be led by Inspector Karl Curran, who will oversee a team of more than 70 new Farm Crime Liaison Officers, previously known as Agricultural Liaison Officers (AGLOs) and additional administrative and co-ordination support.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the new unit was a direct response to the needs of farmers.

“We take this type of offending very seriously – the theft of equipment or livestock can have a huge operational impact on our farmers, on top of the financial burden,” Ms Neville said.

“We’ve listened to the increased concerns in rural communities and we’ve acted. The new Farm Crime Coordination Unit will help centralise Victoria Police’s response to farm crime, while also ensuring the continued presence of Farm Crime Liaison Officers across the state.”

“The unit will work directly with Victoria’s farming and agricultural communities and monitor crime trends and patterns to better respond to farm crime.”

While farm crime contributes less than one per cent of all offending in Victoria, the latest crime statistics show that in the year to March 30 almost 3600 farm-related thefts were recorded, with power tools, tools, livestock, and electrical appliances among the top items stolen.

The new unit will work closely with and provide advice to Victoria’s farming and agricultural community, and provide intelligence and operational advice to Victoria Police command.

The government has also provided $900,000 for the Victorian Farmers’ Federation to work with the farming sector to respond effectively and quickly to animal welfare and biosecurity issues.