The announcement of a new Livestock and Rural Crime Squad under a Liberal Nationals government was welcomed by Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay attending the Annual VFF Conference in Ballarat today.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh announced that a Liberal Nationals Government will work with Victoria Police to establish a dedicated Livestock and Rural Crime Squad with 20 new specialist rural crime investigators.
The allocation of 20 new specialist roles will boost dedicated rural crime police numbers by 40 per cent.
Latest figures show stock theft rose 40% in 2017 and between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 232 instances of ‘Burglary/Break and Enter and ‘Theft’ offences recorded where livestock were stolen. Only 10 of these crimes resulted in an arrest of summons, Mr Walsh said.
Our farmers are asking for help to tackle the increase in rural crime – farm and livestock theft, but once again the Andrews Labor government sits back and does nothing, Mr Ramsay said.
The farmers in the Western Victoria region and throughout the State are hardworking, their livelihoods are compromised by these criminals. Warrnambool Police Inspector Paul Marshall recently described stock theft: “It’s big business… Traditionally farmers have been left a little bit short on the service they are getting so we’re really trying to correct that and treat stock theft for what it is. It’s a serious organised crime.”
The Livestock and Rural Crime Squad will be based throughout regional Victoria. Victoria Police will inform the final operational structure of the specialist unit however it is intended that the roles will be located throughout regional Victoria, ensuring unit members will be working in the rural communities they will be protecting.
These 20 new investigation positions will merge with the existing Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group and the 48 Agricultural Liaison Officers (AGLOs) to create the new Livestock and Rural Crime Squad.
Let’s send a strong message to the Andrews Labor government that Victoria’s agricultural industry cannot afford another four years of the Labor government’s lack of action on rural crime, Mr Ramsay said.
The Liberal National government will keep all Victorian’s safe and secure.