It is imperative that farmers report rural crime if the police are to tackle the likes of sheep rustling effectively, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said yesterday at Kilnsey Show.
The one-day show is a celebration of all the hard work that goes into producing first-class livestock and food in the Yorkshire Dales but some local farmers have suffered heartbreaking setbacks, falling victim to criminals who have preyed on their animals for illegal gain.
Crime chief Mrs Mulligan was back on home turf, having formerly served as a Craven district councillor. In her role as crime commissioner, she is chairman of the new National Rural Crime Network. Part of the network’s brief is to ensure share best practice around rural crime fighting is effectively co-ordinated and sustained.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “Talking to people here today, the thing that’s come out is the issue of cross-border crime. This is a regular theme in rural areas - people coming in here having previously reccied and targeted someone and they know what they are going to do.
“In this area, what the NFU is saying is that they enjoy a good relationship with police over the border in Lancashire but they would like to see greater co-operation with West Yorkshire Police.”
Police have been successful in North Yorkshire at setting up Farm Watch schemes with farmers, she said, and these were starting to gain momentum in other areas. Operating much like a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, the rural equivalent involves live information sharing to outwit suspected criminals thought to be operating locally.
“There is a lot more to be done,” the crime commissioner added. “There is still a lot of problems around under-reporting of rural crimes. A degree of trust needs to be grown between police and the farming community. It’s about making people feel confident that the police will take it seriously - that’s really important.
“But people need to report it because police will put resources where crime is happening and if it is not reported they put those resources in other areas.”
Chris Dickinson, county adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “Sheep rustling is one that has gotten worse here over the last two years. This is the main area for it, along with Lancashire and Cumbria, and we are talking about 50 sheep at a time.
“It’s a farmer’s livelihood and their passion. Over lambing time they put blood, sweat and tears into this and for someone to steal them is just an awful feeling.
“We have worked very hard with local police and have a very good relationship with the forces in neighbouring areas but we still have a long way to go.”
For some local farmers, the 117th Kilnsey Show was one of their last big social events of the summer.
Whenby farmer Charles Marwood added another rosette to his collection. Having won the sheep interbreed title earlier this month at Ryedale, he presented another of his Charollais sheep to take the top prize in the pens here too. His winning shearling ram had already won the reserve breed champion title at the Great Yorkshire Show but this victory came as a surprise - it is usually a hill sheep which takes the championship at Kilnsey.
Mr Marwood said: “I’m overcome with winning here.”
The supreme beef champion was the Rice family, of Yeadon, with their British Blue ‘Disco Daisy’ which also won the commercial beef section.
The Booth family of Earby showed the champion and reserve champion dairy animals, two Holsteins.
David Booth said: “There were a lot more people watching the judging this year - it makes it all feel worthwhile.”