THE National Farmers’ Union and Northumbria Police joined forces to host an event at Hexham Mart on Friday, where they discussed methods to prevent and tackle the rural crime occurring across the district.

Hexham’s NFU mutual group secretary Catherine Bowman said that the mart was the ideal place for the event, as it targeted those who most fell victim to rural crime – farmers and rural businesses.

“Stock-worrying, fly-tipping, illegal poaching, hare coursing, sheep thefts, trespassing and farm vehicle thefts are still prominent in the North-East,” Catherine said. “The event gave the public the opportunity to talk directly with the wildlife officers stationed at the event about their concerns and learn about crime prevention through discussing what recent trends thieves are using.”

The event was also used to promote the police’s ongoing ‘Operation Checkpoint’ scheme, which targets criminals operating on the roads by carrying out searches on vehicles which are acting suspicious or have suspected criminal links. A group of volunteers, equipped with police radios is also deployed in rural locations, to report on anything suspicious, leading to a officer attending the scene.

“The event is a good way to remind the public that Operation Checkpoint is still here, and that we need help from the community to tackle rural crime – especially with the drop in police numbers across Tynedale,” said Catherine.

“People were pleased to see a police presence, and hear about the actions they are taking to keep rural businesses and families safe.”