POLICE and the farming community pledged to work together in the fight against rural crime at a conference in County Durham today (November 14).

Organised by the National Farmers’ Union, the North-East Rural Crime Conference at the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield saw 150 farmers, landowners and police officers from seven North-East forces discuss ways to tackle the issue.

During the day, a series of key speakers, including Chief Constable Mike Barton from Durham Police and Peter Stubbs, a Barnard Castle farmer, who founded Teesdale and Weardale Farmwatch, reiterated the impact of crime on rural communities and explored examples of best practice.

NFU spokeswoman Rachel Gillbanks said the conference had been very successful and had highlighted the effectiveness of Farmwatch schemes.

“I am really delighted at the turnout and the fact everyone engaged with the debate,” she said.