This review was announced by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police on 25 February 2016, along with specific terms of reference. The scope of the review – stock theft, rural trespass and illegal hunting – represents how intertwined these crime types are. Given this, a series of recommendations are proposed in this report which address all three of these issues, as well as ensuring Police are appropriately structured, empowered and resourced for the particular challenges posed by rural crime.
As Professor Elaine Barclay found in her 2014 research into farm crime, while other types of crime are on a downward trend, rural crime is increasing and significantly underreported. It is also important to highlight that approximately 25% of NSW residents live outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
Stock theft, rural trespass and illegal hunting are crimes of major concern to rural and isolated communities. These crimes can lead to significant economic loss for primary producers and rural communities, with one incident potentially leading to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in property theft and malicious damage, as well as the loss of future breeding potential. The impact of rural trespass and illegal hunting is also multiplied by opportunistic crimes which accompany these offences, such as firearm theft, diesel theft or animal cruelty.
This report will propose a number of recommendations aimed at addressing stock theft, rural trespass and illegal hunting. These include enhanced penalties for existing offences, an expansion of current regulatory requirements and significant changes to the way the NSW Police Force is currently structured to address rural crime.