Rural communities from across the Cootamundra electorate came together in Temora yesterday afternoon to discuss crime with the Riverina Police District and Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke MP.

The Rural Crime Forum held at Temora Ex Services Club was hosted by Superintendent Bob Noble, with presentations from Riverina Police District and specialised rural crime inspectors.

It was an opportunity for local police to talk strategy and answer questions and concerns from landholders and community members from all over the electorate.

“I’m truly blown away by the commitment and dedication of our local force. Several weren’t even on duty, and yet still turned up in uniform, representing their stations and their communities,” Ms Cooke said.

“My thanks also go to all the farmers who travelled far and wide to attend, making the evening such a success.

“Having Mayor Tony Lord and Cr Keatley from the Bland Shire was fantastic, a real show of support for our farming communities in the west of the electorate.

“It’s my commitment to you that we tackle rural crime together, as a community,” she added.

In this time of drought, with landholders already under immense pressure, police encouraged the community to speak up and report crimes, whether they believe anything can be done or not.

Attendees were introduced to some of the region’s three new Rural Crime Investigation team members, created in February through the NSW Police Force’s re-engineering program and based in Cootamundra.

These included a Detective Sergeant and an Intelligence Analyst position which is unprecedented in the history of the NSWPF.

Riverina Police District Commander Bob Noble said the emergence of new technology has heralded new threats in the rural crime space.

“The use of drones or UAVs, remote surveillance equipment, cyber-fraud methodologies and other developments in the tech sector pose a variety of threats to farm security, privacy and bio-security,” Supt Noble said.

“The forum was attended by farming families from as far afield as the Lake Cargelligo region, as well as community leaders, business people and local police officers. The mood was informal and congenial which allowed for an unfettered flow of information in both directions.

“Police from the Riverina District will use information from this forum to devise and implement our Rural Crime response for the next 12 months and beyond,” he added.

Supt Noble personally thanked both Ms Cooke and her office, as well as Temora Shire Mayor Cr Rick Firman for their ongoing and steadfast support for police in the District, and for agreeing to host this forum on the night.

More forums will be held in the region moving forward.