Rural crime squadcalls on local police


Bourke region Rural Crime Investigator, Detective Senior Constable Harry Johnstone-Burt. PHOTO TWH

Officers with the Central North Police District are playing a vital role in fighting rural crime, with uniformed police backing up specialist investigators in operations across the region.

Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside heads up the rural crime unit state-wide but said without the back up and initial investigations by local officers, many rural crimes would remain unsolved.

As well as stock and firearms theft and illegal hunting, the rural crime unit has more recently been called in to help farmers rescue or locate stock lost during floods on the east coast.

Detective Inspector Whiteside is the state coordinator of the 54-member team, but said the task was only possible with the back-up of local police.

“Specialist officers in the rural crime team, go through police training, time in uniform and general duties before they specialise,” he said.

“They need a knowledge of rural industry, because not everyone can walk up to a farmer and talk about stock, so we have a mix of men and women who may come from rural backgrounds.

“They need an appreciation of what farmers are going through and are specialists in rural crime investigations. We have two rural crime investigators in Bourke, and two in Walgett, but our team is relatively small, so we rely on uniformed police muscling the farmers to come to us when a crime has been committed.

“Having those uniformed officers involved increases our numbers and reach and exposes other police to what we do.

“We are covering an area the size of Texas, so we rely heavily on other police to attend, investigate, solve, or consult.


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