GIPPSLAND farmers will be better protected with a new specialist squad to combat rising rates of rural crime to be established by an elected Nationals Government.
Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien said an elected Liberal Nationals Government will work with Victoria Police to establish a dedicated Livestock and Rural Crime Squad with 20 specialist rural crime investigators – increasing the number of dedicated rural crime police by 40 per cent.
“Livestock theft hurts our hard-working farmers and their families,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Farmers have been left frustrated by the lack of dedicated police resources and feel their concerns are being ignored by the city-centric Labor Government.
“A Liberal Nationals Government will work to correct that and treat stock theft for what it is – a serious organised crime.”
Stock theft rose 40 per cent in 2017, compared to the year before.
Between April 2017 and March 2018 there were 232 recorded offences where livestock were stolen in Victoria, with only 10 resulting in an arrest or summons.
In 2017, two South Gippsland farmers took matters into their own hands after initial police investigations stalled, offering monetary rewards for any information leading to an arrest after having livestock stolen from their properties.
Victoria Police will inform the final operational structure of the proposed specialist unit, however it is intended that the roles will be located throughout regional Victoria, ensuring unit members will be working in the rural communities they will be protecting.