Farmwatch Schemes

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury 12:00 am, 21st January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has as to how many farmwatch schemes are operated in England and Wales by county constabularies; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

Information about the number of farmwatch schemes is not held centrally. Farmwatch is one of a number of variations of the neigbourhood watch concept; others include hospital watch and business watch. The number of such schemes continues to grow and we are much encouraged by this evidence of the willingness of so many individuals to work together, and with the police, to help prevent crime in their areas.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key , Salisbury

Will my hon. Friend join in congratulating the Wiltshire constabulary on its initiation of the scheme, which has led not only to a decrease in rural crime, including farm theft, illegal hare coursing and other crimes, but to an improvement in the use of police resources and help with the scheme from the whole community, including environmental groups and shooting clubs?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The answer to that is yes. The type of work that is being carried out in the Amesbury sub-division of the Wiltshire police area is exemplary. I hope that other such areas up and down the country which face the problems of rural crime will think about going along the same path.[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. Hon. Members who want to have private conversations should do so outside.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

What assistance will the Minister give those on the farmwatch scheme to stop the property developers and the city slickers preying on the land, buying it and then turning it into suburbialand, thus changing the natural beauty of Britain?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

That is an interesting development of the farmwatch concept, but I am happy to say that it is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.