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Crime behind the farm gate: Preventing and policing farm crime in rural Victoria, Australia

June 11, 2015

Alistair Harkness from Federation University’s Gippsland Campus attended the Stockholm Criminology Symposium this week, and presented a paper addressing farm crime and reporting on his research from Victoria Australia, Here is the abstract of his presentation:


Crime devastates lives and communities across different spaces: in cities; remote settings; provincial towns; smaller urbanised regional areas; and on the urban-fringe. However, rural offending has hitherto been a largely forgotten frontier of crime, but one that warrants considerable further attention. In addition to bearing financial costs for farming communities, rural crime also bears significant sociological impacts.


Situational crime prevention theory is premised on the notion that a potential offender makes a rational choice as to their behaviour. In essence, situational crime prevention involves increasing the effort involved in crime (by making offending more difficult), increasing the risks of detection (real or perceived), and reducing the rewards for the offending. However, there exists a rural mentality that “she’ll be right” and many opportunities are provided inadvertently for thefts to occur.


Drawing upon primary interview and survey data collected between October 2013 and September 2014, this paper will consider the opportunities presented to offenders’ often unwittingly by farmers and farm communities’ and will determine a suite of situational crime prevention strategies which could be implemented by individuals and agencies of the State to address offending rates.


Importantly, this paper will identify initiatives for the prevention and control of property crime against farms and for the improvement of service delivery to confront an increasingly important aspect of crime and crime control. In so doing, existing policing practices to confront farm crime such as the role of Agricultural Liaison Officers in Victoria will be assessed, and challenges for contemporary rural policing explored. Building and strengthening relationships with farmers and addressing ingrained reticence in country communities to report crime, seek assistance when needed, and overcome fear are essential to reduce the incidence of farm crime. Experiences from Victoria could well serve as a guide for other jurisdictions.

From → Rural Crime

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