Crime squad pledge

By Country News

The Victorian Coalition has pledged to establish a new Livestock and Rural Crime Squad to specialise in dealing with rural crime including farm and livestock theft, if elected in November’s state election.

If elected, a Liberal Nationals government will work with Victoria Police to establish 20 new specialist rural crime investigators.

According to the Opposition, the allocation of 20 new specialist roles will boost dedicated rural crime police numbers by 40 per cent.

‘‘A Liberal Nationals government will send a strong message to potential criminals that if they are thinking about farm and livestock theft you will get caught and you will get punished,’’ Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said.

He said instances of stock theft rose 40 per cent 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.

He said just 10 of these crimes resulted in an arrest or summons.

Victoria Police will inform the final operational structure of the specialist unit.

However, it is intended 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 to create the new Livestock and Rural Crime Squad.