According to a 2021 survey by the National Farmer’s Union (NFU), rural crime is on the rise, with 64% of UK farmers surveyed reporting that they believe rural crime is escalating. On further questioning, the survey found that farmers who had been victimised by rural crime had suffered an average loss of £5,100.
Thankfully, there are many security technologies available that will help protect you against potential wrongdoers.
In particular, if you are a farmer, an owner of an agribusiness, or have a rural smallholding, automatic gates are an efficient and cost-effective solution for controlling access to your property - thereby guarding against crimes such as arson, theft, and fly-tipping, while reducing the risk of livestock escaping.
Let’s now explore how automated gate systems can enhance your farm’s security against the common rural risks.
The Safekeeping Of Livestock
Livestock can be at significant risk from theft and attacks by dogs or humans, while they can also present an external risk to walkers in the area if not properly controlled. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive, 74 people have been killed by cows in the past 15 years, making them the deadliest large animal in Britain.
Livestock rustling continues to be a significant risk to agribusinesses, with £2.1 million worth of livestock stolen in 2021. Rustling has become a major organised crime activity and thefts often cause a significant loss, as many thousands of pounds worth of livestock are commonly taken at a time.
In fact, over the past 4 years, 108 cases of livestock theft were reported in Devon and Cornwall alone, and during one raid in 2019, a total of 220 sheep were stolen from a property in Romney, Wiltshire.
Livestock can also be a target for violent activities and may be targeted as an act of corporate sabotage, or by dangerous criminals. Attacks on animals are considered a predictor of violence towards humans, and as such, it is of crucial importance for farmers to protect not only their livestock - but also their staff - from trespassers.
Farmers can also lose revenue from livestock escaping, and from any damage they cause to the community. Farmers are legally responsible for their livestock, and liable for any damage caused to residents’ properties if animals trespass onto their land.
This applies even if a rambler leaves a gate open - making gate automation a crucial step toward protecting your assets.
Farming is a hazardous industry and has the highest fatal injury rate of all major sectors.
In 2021, farm deaths rose by 61%, with 34 deaths occurring that year in contrast to 21 in 2020. Additionally, according to a report by the Health and Safety Executive, there was an average of 12,000 non-fatal farming accidents per year between 2018 and 2021.
Despite high levels of injury, many non-fatal accidents on farms also go unreported. As such, risks to health on farms may be even higher than expected, and landowners should be aware of the risks posed to human health by transport, machinery, and livestock.
Just as in any other industry, farmers are legally responsible for the health and wellbeing of their employees, and should regularly risk assess any agricultural operations that occur on-site under the Health And Safety At Work Act 1974.
This includes not only your routine processes, but also other activities that may occur on-site - such as the handling and transport of stock. Employers should also anticipate the potential threat that members of the public may pose to staff.
Gate automation can help to keep your staff safe by limiting access to restricted areas - particularly where there may be dangerous pieces of machinery or environmental hazards. This helps to protect against the risk of accidents from machinery, moving vehicles, and trampling by large livestock such as cows.
Gate automation also prevents unauthorised personnel from accessing the premises, helping to eliminate the risk of attacks on staff from members of the public.
Damaged or stolen farming equipment can cost many thousands of pounds to replace, meaning this often has a significant impact on agribusinesses. For example, in 2020, agricultural vehicle theft cost farms across the UK £9.3 million, while the theft of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) cost insurers another £3.1 million.
Fuel was also frequently targeted by criminals, being the eighth most stolen resource from farms. Criminals are capable of draining a thousand-litre fuel tank in mere minutes, making it unlikely that the perpetrator will be caught in the act, and causing significant financial losses to agricultural businesses.
Fuel theft is also more likely than you might think, as according to the Certas Energy survey (LAMMA, 2018), 22% of all agricultural businesses were victims of fuel theft, with 75% of all fuel stolen being taken from commercial enterprises.
Using gate automation helps to protect your assets by preventing unauthorised persons from accessing your property. As a result, this helps to reduce theft, arson, vandalism, and other similar crimes.
Enhancing Your Farm’s Security: A Checklist
• Risk Assess Any Existing Weaknesses In Your Security System: Regular risk assessments can help to identify the risk of access breaches and accidents on your property before they happen, allowing you to take advanced action and prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.
To carry out an effective risk assessment, identify which assets are particularly at risk from theft, fire, or loss, which are the most valuable, and where your premises’ physical vulnerabilities are.
• Use Alarms And Access Controls: While using gate automation can help to prevent many financial losses experienced by farms, pairing this with the use of intruder alarms and access controls helps to tighten your security further, making it unlikely that criminals can access your property without triggering an alarm.
In addition, if you have any doors that are not automated, ensure that the hinges are strong and haven’t rusted, as any door with rusty hinges can easily be removed, making them an easy target for criminals.
• Install CCTV: CCTV is an effective deterrent against crime and can also help you to catch criminals in the act. Position your CCTV system near vulnerable security points to add an extra layer of protection to your perimeter.
• Protect Vehicles: Agricultural vehicles are frequent targets of theft and corporate sabotage. Make sure your vehicles are kept in a locked location, with the keys safely hidden.
If you have multiple members of staff accessing vehicles, make sure you have a log book so that vehicles can be signed in and out. And if any of your vehicles are stolen, correctly installed CCTV systems should be able to capture the offenders on film.
Want to protect your agribusiness from crime and other security threats? Contact us and let’s get started!