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Hidden costs of farm thefts and waste crime mount up

Ripponden farmer Rachel Hallos
Ripponden farmer Rachel Hallos

There are significant hidden costs for farmers who fall victim to countryside crime, according to Calderdale farmer Rachel Hallos.

As West Riding county chairman of the National Farmers’ Union, Mrs Hallos has represented farmers in discussions with Yorkshire police forces, and she is personally familiar with the frustrations of dealing with rural crime such as fly-tipping and theft.

Since January mounds of dumped household and construction waste have been left to rot on private land in the middle of her rented farm in Ripponden.

The detritus is periodically blown onto her farm, where she keeps sheep and cattle but because it is on private land belonging to an absentee landowner, the local council and the Environment Agency have been unable to intervene.

She has also had a tractor stolen in a previous incident.

Recovering from crime can be costly, she said.

“A lot of farmers don’t look at their own time but their time is money.

“Then there’s the problem of insurance costs going up. You then add extra security costs for better chains on gates, CCTV cameras, trackers on machinery and it’s all additional cost. Even then you might still get things stolen.”

Mrs Hallos said she had been invited by West Yorkshire Police to train 101 call handlers in how to deal with reports of rural crime. It follows a series of meetings between the NFU and police to better understand how forces are tackling rural crime.

“We have been doing numerous meetings with police forces trying to get a handle on it and the whole process has opened my eyes to how each force operates differently,” Mrs Hallos said.

“In North Yorkshire, rural crime is part of everyday crime and officers are working on it and have more of a presence and a greater relationship with farms.

“In South Yorkshire, they are doing things like policing three big football matches - that costs money. In West Yorkshire, they are basically operating at the same level as the Met Office, dealing with trafficking, abductions and terrorism. Rural crime has to fit in with that.

“We all have a job to do to report everything that happens, which can be disheartening, but it’s a two-way street.”