Meet the UK’s first police officer specialising in livestock theft

Martin Beck has been announced as the UK’s first police officer who will specialise in livestock theft. 

Martin Beck has been announced by NFU Mutual as the UK's first police officer who specialises in livestock theft. 

According to the latest figures from NFU Mutual, UK livestock theft cost an estimated £2.7 million in 2022 and often lead to the animals being sold on the black market. 

To tackle this issue, the rural insurer has enabled the National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU) to recruit Mr Beck, who has 30 years of policing experience in rural areas. 

He will join the NRCU team to gather livestock theft-related intelligence across the UK, spot and share trends, work with local police forces to build cases, and help build prosecutions and secure convictions against these criminals.

Thefts to be targeted and disrupted 

Mr Beck said that, as part of the role, he will be working with police forces across the country to help them understand the crime. 

“From my new base at the NRCU, I will be working to ensure information is shared between the police forces and their key partners.

“To help coordinate activity, the NRCU is introducing Operation Foldyard, which will share intelligence between police forces and partners, including in the farming industry. 

“As the intelligence picture grows, I expect to see individuals involved in livestock theft targeted and disrupted,” he added. 

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Martin Beck, photo by NFU.

Exposing criminals

Livestock theft is also a cause of food crime and can present a risk to public health as the quality and safety of stolen meat products cannot be guaranteed. 

Mr Beck said the crime “needs to be exposed for the harm it is causing”, and that the people involved are “criminals”. 

He added: “While larger thefts can be high value and devastating for that farmer’s business, finding one or two of their flock butchered in their fields can be just as distressing.” 

Deterring livestock thieves

NFU Mutual shared advice for farmers who struggle with livestock thefts: 

  • Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up-to-date.
  • When possible, graze livestock in fields away from roads or consider housing them inside.
  • Check stock regularly – and vary times of feeding/check ups. 
  • Consider a high-tech marking system. 
  • Join a Farm or Rural Watch scheme to share information about rural crime in your area.  
  • Ask neighbours to report any suspicious sightings to the police.
  • Dial 999 immediately if an incident is taking place – do not approach criminals. 

Read more rural crime news.

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