Police reform to tackle rural crime
As a decorated country cop from Dubbo, there wouldn’t be many who know more about the challenges of regional policing than the Nationals Minister for Police, Troy Grant. His years of experience give him the know-how to push through vital reforms in this area.
Thanks to Troy's efforts, the Nationals and Liberals in Government have committed to strengthening the laws concerning stock theft, trespass and illegal hunting.
As part of that commitment to addressing rural crime they have appointed, for the first time, a dedicated NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner for Regional Field Operations, Gary Worboys APM.
In addition, a review of the current law regarding stock theft, trespass and illegal hunting was carried out by former NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Steve Bradshaw to investigate how the Government can improve its management of rural crime from both an operational and legislative perspective.
“The unique features and challenges of crime in rural and regional areas demands a tailored response,” Troy said.
“We must ensure that the police respond to reports of crime in a timely fashion and have the necessary skills and knowledge of their local communities to hold those responsible for these crimes to account.”
The Bradshaw Review identified several areas for development and noted that there are consistent concerns amongst victims: that the costs associated with rural crime are often not reflected in the penalties delivered by the courts and the deficiencies in the law regarding trespass.
The Government will address these concerns by proposing changes that include:
- a new aggravated trespass offence where there is an enhanced biosecurity risk, intent to engage in stock theft or the presence of hunting equipment;
- a specific reference to a victim’s geographical isolation as an aggravating factor on sentence;
- the ability to apply the Local Court for a forced muster order, which will assist victims of stock theft;
- a deeming provision that will help to provide certainty of ownership to those who harvest rangeland goats for commercial gain;
- increased flexibility for police to seize vehicles connected with a game hunting offence; and
- the doubling of the maximum financial penalty for illegal hunting on private land from $1,100 to $2,200.
Mr Worboys noted that the NSW Police Force has already started to implement changes of their own.
“The NSW Police Force has already taken a number of steps to improve officer training and education when it comes to rural crime, including the updating of the rural crime manual and the introduction of workshops lead by the Department of Primary Industries, and experienced regional officers,” Mr Worboys said.
The financial burden of rural crime costs our communities millions each year and severely impacts the livelihood of our farmers, therefore the Government’s response strategy is built on encouraging locals to report and engage with authorities.