Researchers at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) studying farm-based crime have found that more than half of the 1,333 farmers surveyed had been victims of theft.
These are among the many findings of a research report by Dr Nicola Hughes and Dr Matt Bowden, criminologists at the School of Social Sciences, Law and Education at TU Dublin.
The survey was conducted in Autumn 2022 and is based on a sample of 1,330 responses from the farming community.
While most farmers (71%) reported thefts to An Garda Síochána, a proportion of those participating in the survey did not. 29% of participants did not report their experience of theft to An Garda Síochána, compared with 19% in national victim surveys.
In the TU Dublin survey, the primary reasons given for not reporting were based on a belief that (i) the incident was not serious enough; (ii) that the police would do nothing about it; and (iii) that there was insufficient evidence to warrant police action.
Speaking about the survey, which was the result of a collaboration between the University and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), researcher Dr Matt Bowden said: “While there has been much attention to issues of rural crime in recent years, we have very little systematic data. This research highlights the Irish farming community’s experience of crime and victimisation, and their perceptions of crime prevention, and helps us to better understand crimes committed against farms and the measures farmers take to prevent their victimisation.”
Continuing, Dr Bowden said, “This survey was made possible with the active engagement of the farming community through a very positive collaboration with the IFA, and we hope that this is the start of a more solid knowledge base on issues related to rural crime and crime prevention in Ireland, giving a voice to the farmers experience of crime.”
Among the main findings, the research highlights that:
- Farmers take routine and active crime prevention measures on their farms;
- 60% of participants believe that An Garda Síochána should have a dedicated unit to deal with farm thefts and rural crime; and,
- Farmers are fearful of being burgled, but only one-third have an alarm on their dwelling.
The report’s co-author Dr Nicola Hughes said: “Many victims of crime do not report it. If the true extent of crime and victimisation against the farming community is to be understood, then all victims should be encouraged to report the incident to An Garda Síochána“.
Commenting on the report’s findings, IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said: “I commend the team involved in developing this report, which is the first of its kind in Ireland”.
“The underreporting of crime to An Garda Síochána is concerning. Anyone affected by crime should report it for the scale of the issue to be captured, and adequate policing resources be assigned.”
The views expressed in the report that An Garda Siochana should have a dedicated unit specifically to deal with rural and farming crimes is supported by IFA. Such units or teams in other similar jurisdictions have proved to be a game-changer and have contributed significantly to reducing criminal activity”, he concluded.
The research is part of a worldwide project studying aspects of rural crime in 18 participating countries.
TU Dublin’s survey builds on a similar study first carried out in Victoria, Australia.