A Great Bourton farmer of more than four decades has criticised police officers’ rural crime initiatives in Banburyshire and is calling for extra support.
Brian Cannon, 70, of High Acres Farm, Great Bourton, believes many farmers are still living in fear of thieves targeting their property and equipment.
He made the comments in response to an article in last week’s Banbury Guardian highlighting the latest week-long police initiative by the Banbury Rural neighbourhood team tackling rural crime, which began yesterday (Wednesday) and runs until April 28.
Mr Cannon, now semi-retired, said: “If only the action concurred with the rhetoric on rural crime we might make some progress, but in my experience this has not happened.”
Mr Cannon claims he has become increasingly frustrated after a series of crimes affecting him and neighbouring farmers were not effectively followed up.
He highlighted three examples including the theft of a tractor and trailer from separate Banburyshire farms ten days apart, after which he claims officers attending the second incident knew nothing about the first.
He said: “I can’t understand the lack of co-ordination. Different sets of police working for the same station need to be fully informed of what’s going on across their patch.”
In a second incident in August 2013, Mr Cannon claims he discovered two men in a vehicle entering his farmyard for no reason. He locked them in and called police when he found the vehicle contained what he believed might be stolen goods. Mr Cannon said the men tried to get away by driving through an oat field which he said could easily have been ignited by a spark from the engine because it was ‘tinder dry’.
Officers questioned the men but subsequently let them go. Officers then said they would go to the men’s residence and question them regarding criminal damage, but Mr Cannon claims when police did visit the address two months later the men had moved on.
Mr Cannon cited other incidents including the theft of diesel and farm tools from his sheds, and believes most farmers in Banburyshire have been targeted at some point.
He appealed to police officers saying: “We feel so vulnerable. Please when we do have a good line of questioning please do your best to pursue it to fruition.”
Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Area Commander Supt Colin Paine responded to the comments saying: “Rural crime remains a key priority for Thames Valley Police and we are committed to actively policing the rural areas of our local policing area in order to support our rural communities, that often feel isolated, and decrease the number of crimes and victims of rural crime.”
He continued: “We urge our rural communities to report any suspicious incidents, vehicles and/or persons to us via 101 to ensure that we can fully investigate all reports.
“When a crime has taken place, we are committed to pursuing all lines of enquires, and we support victims of crime to ensure that they do not become repeat victims, by working with partner agencies to run excellent crime reduction initiatives and our crime reduction and prevention advisors that carry out farm surveys, to identifying risks, offering protective marking and suitable crime prevention advice.”