The Commissioner met members of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) at the Darrington Golf Club to discuss the police response to rural crime. The event was hosted by Adam Bedford, North East Regional Director of the NFU. Farmers came from the Barnsley and Doncaster districts.

NFU speakers talked about the seriousness of rural crime across the country and asked for the co-operation of the police service while recognising the pressures on police budgets.

Dr Billings discussed his priorities for the force in South Yorkshire.  These are protecting vulnerable people, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and treating people fairly.

He said: “These priorities apply to the farming community. Farmers could feel isolated and vulnerable. They are entitled to protection from crime and anti-social behaviour. They need their fair share of police resources.

“Farmers have spoken to me about many local concerns – quad bikes, hare coursing, fly-tipping, fly-grazing, arson and serious theft.”

The Commissioner acknowledged the fears of retaliation that farmers had in reporting crime, but nevertheless urged them to do so, even if indirectly.

He said, “We can only catch criminals if we have good intelligence. The farming community and the police have to work together. “

Sergeant Mark Gregory from South Yorkshire Police outlined some of the activities that the force is already undertaking, despite stretched resources.

Dr Billings said he would discuss the issues raised with the Chief Constable and look at ways to do more to tackle rural crime and anti-social behaviour in South Yorkshire.