Farming leaders and police have backed a campaign to raise awareness of rural crime.

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The initiative, launched by crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers, comes after it was revealed that the number of animals stolen in Suffolk has increased dramatically over the last five years.

The campaign’s “Scene it. Herd it. Speak up about it. Anonymously” message will be spread across social media using Facebook and Twitter - directing people to a webpage that discusses rural crime, including poaching, hare-coursing, theft of oil, metal and machinery.

Brian Finnerty, spokesman for NFU (National Farmers Union) East said: “We support anything that raises the profile of rural crime and gets the message over about one the impact it has but also encourage people to report incidents and intelligence about those perprtrating these incidents so we can crack done on this problem which is obviously a real concern tyo our members in Suffolk and Essex.”

Mr Finnerty said social media “can be a really effective tool to get the message out and raise awarenes of crimes that are in progress as well.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Tackling rural crime in Suffolk is a priority under the police and crime plan set out by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Senior officers and we support any initiative that can help fight it. Suffolk is a largely rural county and specific crime and anti-social behaviour issues affect these communities every day. Our Rural Crime Unit works with Safer Neighbour Teams throughout the county to identify specific problems that can be addressed, and to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place.

“However, with the distances involved and the isolated nature of some communities, we also rely on the public providing us with information, remaining vigilant and playing their part to help prevent rural crime.”

Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, Roger Critchell, added: “No-one has anything to fear by contacting Crimestoppers as you will remain anonymous – no personal information is taken. Calls are not traced or recorded and you will not have to go to court or give a statement to the police. In the 26 years that Crimestoppers has been running we have never broken our promise of anonymity.”

Anyone with information or suspicions concerning criminal activity should ring the Crimestoppers’ on 0800 555 111.

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