Virtual reality to help prevent rural crime in Lancashire

The fight against rural crime in Lancashire has gone online to teach young and aspiring farmers to identify the points on farm that are vulnerable to thieves.

Lancashire Constabulary and Myerscough College have teamed up to develop an innovative virtual reality experience that uses computer technology to create a simulated farm environment.

Farm Defender aims to educate users in an engaging and immersive way about how their farm is vulnerable to organised crime gangs, and offers advice on how to protect their equipment and property. Accessed via a smartphone, users are immersed and able to interact with the 3D world.

See also: New taskforce to tackle rural crime in Thames Valley

Sgt Guy Hamlett, from Lancashire Police’s Wyre local policing team, came up with the idea, which aims to reduce the risk of rural communities being targeted by criminals and organized crime gangs.

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Sgt Hamlett said: “Sadly, farms can be seen as easy targets by criminals, who cause misery by stealing essential machinery, working dogs and livestock. Crime prevention is crucial in enabling people to be one step ahead of criminals and take action where needed to reduce vulnerabilities.”

Farm Defender has been brought to life by experts and students at Myerscough College, who have been instrumental in developing the project.

The initiative has been driven by the college’s e-learning team, with the project led by Adrian Capstick, senior digital content designer and learning developer, in conjunction with current learners on agriculture study programmes.

David Singleton, lecturer in agriculture at the college, said: “This initiative will be of significant benefit – not only to our students, but also to the wider young farming community, to best equip the next generation of the agricultural sector workforce to combat crime .”

Additional officers

Lancashire police and crime commissioner Andrew Snowden said: “Rural crime, such as the theft of plant, machinery or livestock from Lancashire farms, can destroy lives and livelihoods.

“I am investing in additional officers and equipment for our rural policing teams, who work hard to tackle this type of crime and to deter criminals wanting to exploit the rural areas of our county.

“I want Lancashire to lead the way nationally on fighting rural crime, and remain fully committed to ensuring that all areas of Lancashire, both urban and rural, are safe and protected.

“It’s fantastic to see the use of digital innovation to support this work and to help rural communities to protect themselves.”

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