A “SICK and tired” farmer has said farms have to be turned into ‘fortresses’ to keep criminals out as he slammed the lack of a police presence in rural areas.

William Emmett of Hornbuckle Farm in Bray told Thames Valley Police at a Royal Borough rural forum that farmers deserve “better support,” after telling members his farm was targeted six times since Christmas.

He also said other crimes have happened at other farms, but a lot of people are not reporting these incidents because they are “sick and tired” of waiting a long time for the police to pick up their call.

Mr Emmett said: “There are several people in this room who live in the south of Holyport and on Saturdays and Sundays it has become a fortress.

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“I’ve spent a substantial amount of money on buying large poacher plants to try and protect my property.”

He added: “We need visible support at night-time. Unfortunately, people have lost confidence in the police because they don’t see a police presence.

“We need to get respect for you guys again because I’m sorry to say, we don’t have it.”

His comments come from the meeting on Tuesday, March 7, where PC Mackley from Thames Valley Police told members that there were 23 rural crimes reported in the Borough between September and December last year.

One location was targeted three times in September. The most common offence was lamping – the activity of hunting at night using lamps, especially rabbits – with five offences and no offenders caught.

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There was also one poaching offence and one residential burglary.

Mr Emmett said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” by the rural crime figures, prompting him to call for more police presence.

Cllr David Cannon (Con: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury), lead member for public protection, said there “isn’t any evidence” that the rural crime taskforce are being deployed or seen in Berkshire.

PC Mackley said the rural crime taskforce patrolled the whole of the Thames Valley and was in parts of the Royal Borough, such as Eton. However, he said he will see if they can patrol Berkshire more regularly.

He also urged people to keep reporting crime or suspicious activity to “build a picture” for the force on where to deploy their resources.

The Royal Borough Council has invested £240,000 into providing four additional police officers to patrol the borough.

Council leader Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams) pledged that if the Tories win this year’s election, he will commit to providing a further four police officers to patrol the borough.