Residents’ concerns about rural crime and new police initiatives in tackling the matter were in focus at a Riverina forum on Monday night.
The Rural Crime Forum at Temora Ex-Services Club allowed Riverina Police District’s Superintendent Bob Noble and specialised rural-crime inspectors the chance to answer questions and listen to concerns from landholders and residents.
Attendees were also introduced to some of the region’s three new Rural Crime Investigation team members.
These positions, based in Cootamundra, were created in February through the NSW Police Force’s re-engineering program.
They include a Detective Sergeant and an Intelligence Analyst, which are unprecedented in the history of the NSWPF.
Superintendent Noble, who led the forum, said the emergence of new technology had heralded new threats in rural communities.
“The use of drones or UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], remote-surveillance equipment, cyber-fraud methodologies and other developments in the tech sector pose a variety of threats to farm security, privacy and bio-security,” he said.
“The forum was attended by farming families from as far afield as the Lake Cargelligo region, as well as community leaders, business people and local police officers.
“The mood was informal and congenial, which allowed for an unfettered flow of information in both directions.”
Superintendent Noble said the RPD will use the information from the forum to devise and implement its rural crime response for the next 12 months and beyond.
Police also encourage the community to speak up and report crimes, whether they believe anything can be done or not.
Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke also attended and said it was her commitment to “tackle rural crime together – as a community”.
“I’m truly blown away by the commitment and dedication of our local force,” Ms Cooke said.
“Several weren’t even on duty, and yet still turned up in uniform, representing their stations and their communities,” Ms Cooke said.
“My thanks also go to all the farmers who travelled far and wide to attend, making the evening such a success.”
I’m truly blown away by the commitment and dedication of our local force.Stephanie Cooke, Cootamundra MP
Temora Shire Mayor Rick Firman also attended to speak about rural crime.
“We commend Superintendent Noble and Steph Cooke on the initiative,” Mr Firman said.
“Rural crime is an issue in all rural shires – it’s everyone’s responsibilities to stamp it out and to ensure it gets reported.
“Everyone’s on the front foot and everyone has a role to play.”
More forums are planned to be held in the region.
NSW Police will also be launching Rural Crime Week from September 17 with a formal launch at the Henty Field Days on September 18.
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