Dec 16 2011 by Jennifer Buchanan, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
GANGS are getting away with serious crimes because police are being refused vital support in rural Ayrshire.
And a politician insists that penny pinching senior cops say that it’s “not cost effective” to pursue an investigation into the theft of nearly £200,000 worth of equipment from farms.
Local cops desperate to catch those behind the raids on numerous farms across the south of the county have been left to deal with the problem on their own.
MSP Adam Ingram insists that the centralising of police services is at the root of the problem.
Mr Ingram, who represents Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, raged: “This is clearly the work of criminal gangs.
“Yet it would appear that local police efforts have not been backed up sufficiently by specialist forensic and other support.
“Services such as forensics and police photographers have been centralised in Glasgow and Kilmarnock and local farmers have been told that ‘it wasn’t cost effective to travel such a distance’ to pursue an investigation.”
Indeed farmers in Carrick sing the praises of their community officers, who don’t have the resources to deal with the problem on their own.
It is understood that police found a stash of stolen quad bikes hidden in the woods near Barr village.
However, a police plan to monitor the hiding place to trap thieves was dropped because they didn’t have the resources.
Ian Buchanan, who farms at Lendalfoot, had his Kawasaki quad bike stolen in October.
He said: “The police here were really first class, they really restored my faith in the system.
“But I can’t help but feel, as tax payers, we are being neglected.”
And farmers fear that someone will end up hurt unless this problem is tackled immediately.
Jimmy Stewart had his Honda quad bike stolen three months ago from his farm at Pinwherry, just days after his son spotted a strange car on his land.
He said: “The local police have been really active trying to track these people down.
“But it’s the same thing everywhere just now, resources are being cut and they’re understaffed.
“I just worry what’s going to happen if the police don’t stop these guys.
“People could get hurt.”
Mr Buchanan added: “It really feels like we’re being watched by these guys.”
Carrick Crime Prevention Panel and Mr Ingram have set up a meeting with police chiefs next Tuesday.
Mr Ingram added: “It appears officers from the centralised departments will only attend crime scenes in South Carrick in exceptional circumstances.
“If this is the case then victims of organised crime in our area are being discriminated against on the grounds of its rurality.
“Such a situation would be totally unacceptable and needs redressed right now.”
Chief Inspector for South Ayrshire Neil Kerr insists he is committed to rural policing and that so-called centralisation is not to blame.
He said: “I currently have an inspector, a sergeant, 10 community cops and 10 response officers based in Girvan as well as a sergeant and 10 community cops in Maybole.
“And as long as I’m here that’s not about to change.”
The chief inspector added: “We can never have enough police and I’m very sorry if any farmers feel there has been a problem.
“I’m on their side.
“If any of them feel they would like to talk to me then I’m more than happy to do that and will pass on any police information and advice that I can.”