Key findings from the NSW Farm Crime Survey into the impacts and perceptions of farm crime are coming to light, with the survey due to close at the end of 2020.
Following a strong response from over 500 farmers across NSW, Centre for Rural Criminology co-directors, Dr Kyle Mulrooney and Dr Alistair Harkness, were able to present some high level findings to police at the NSW Police Force Rural Crime State Conference held in Dubbo in November.
The findings will provide critical evidence and data to help police make decisions to reduce the high levels of victimisation Australian farmers currently experience.
“Overall, we’ve found that there are high levels of victimisation in the NSW farming community– 81% of respondents reported being victim to farm crimes, and importantly, 80% reported being victimised more than once,” Dr Mulrooney says.
“Along with the rate of victimisation, the survey has uncovered a high level of worry or fear around farm crime victimisation, low to mid levels of confidence in the police response and low levels of reporting.
“We know from the literature and the survey further confirms that these factors interact significantly. This particular pattern can also have a range of negative impacts on things like mental health and quality of life,” he says.
The conference was an opportunity to present the findings directly to the police across all levels who respond to rural crime, including sharing farmers’ thoughts on the measures that should be undertaken to prevent and combat rural crime.
“In the survey, farmers showed strong support for a number of measures, including taking strong action against offenders, investing in a specialist rural crime unit, more proactive models of policing and educating police on issues of rural crime,” Dr Mulrooney says.
Following on from a farm crime survey in Victoria conducted by Dr Harkness and two benchmarking NSW surveys conducted over past decades, the current survey is part of a renewed strategy by criminologists with the UNE Centre for Rural Criminology to provide strong, broad evidence around rural crime experiences.
“The survey helps build an empirical picture of farm crime across Australia, adds to our understanding as academics and practitioners, and ultimately, is essential for helping inform crime reduction and prevention measures,” Dr Harkness says.
“Having the evidence justifies the allocation of effort and resources specifically to rural crime, which has been neglected in the past.”
Dr Mulrooney and Dr Harkness are preparing to undertake an Australia-wide survey and international surveys, in collaboration with criminologists around the world, to provide further evidence and insights into rural crime issues.
The NSW Farm Crime Survey can be completed until 31 December 2020 at https://bit.ly/farmcrime2020
Images: (1) The NSWPF Rural Crime Prevention Team and invited guests at the NSWPF Rural Crime State Conference 2020 (2) Dr Kyle Mulrooney, Dr Alistair Harkness, DI Cameron Whiteside and Dr Glenn Porter at the NSWPF Rural Crime State Conference dinner.