An Erne East Councillor has called on the local farming community to come together to protect themselves against threats in their area.

However he would not be drawn whether this included encouraging them to take action into their own hands while he also said he personally had not “any faith” in the PSNI.

In a statement to the Impartial Reporter, Independent Councillor John McCluskey raised the issue of local farmers and residents who feel “under threat” by unknown vehicles including a black 4x4 driving in and around their farms and residences, particularly at night. “I would like to ask farmers and the local community to come together and talk to each other to see what we can do to protect our community and their hard earned property,” the statement read.

“In any normal (society) people would work with and support the police on this and other matters. However, I fully understand why this might not always be what people want to do. So in recognition of this reality I suggest that we come together and draw up a plan to help protect ourselves against any such threats in our area.”

When asked whether this was encouraging people to take action into their owns hands rather than alerting police, Councillor McCluskey said that was up to them.

“My personal view, I don’t want to put my personal stamp on it, I wouldn’t have any faith in the police. I mean there are some things but in general I think farmers need to take hold of this themselves. Some of them might have faith in the police, some of them might not. I know that the police can’t be everywhere at four o clock in the morning if somebody is breaking into a farm. Farners do need to start coming together, recognising this as a major problem.”

Councillor McCluskey said from talking to a number of people in the area, there was little faith in the community in regards to the police and he wants the debate to start on how people can protect themselves against these late night incidents.

“It’s up to the farmers to meet and take whatever action they feel necessary. If they want to contact the police let them do so. If they want to create a line of communication between themselves to help another, but it has to come from farmers themselves. I’m not actually telling them anything, I’m doing it to raise the awareness and get people focused and let people know what is happening.

“What do you do? Is there any exact advice to somebody whose cattle are being stolen in the middle of the night? That farmer has to take action. It’s a very dangerous situation. We need to start that debate and protecting their property.”

In a statement, the PSNI said they have not received any reports of vehicles acting suspiciously but encouraged anybody who does see strange behaviour to report it as soon as possible.

“While we have not received any reports of a dark coloured 4x4 vehicle acting suspiciously in the Roslea area, I would encourage anyone who witnesses any suspicious vehicles or activity to contact us so the matter can be investigated. Reporting promptly to the police any activity that raises suspicion is a good way to initiate our investigation and will help deter criminals and reduce crime in the area,” said Lisnaskea Inspector Paula Johnston.

“Police are committed to reducing rural and agricultural crime across Northern Ireland, by working closely with partner agencies to identify ways to prevent crime and targeting and arresting those committing such offences. “

Inspector Johnston advised against people taking action themselves but encouraged other ways of working together.

“The PSNI is the legitimate law enforcement organisation and I would advise any individual or group not to take the law into their own hands. We would encourage members of the rural community to join their local farm-watch scheme to receive up-to-date crime prevention advice and signage. Make sure that all plant and farm machinery is securely locked and is marked with contact information, so it can be traced if stolen. Markings should be placed on parts of the machinery that are difficult to disguise and take photographs of equipment to create an inventory. By using anti-theft systems such as security tagging and electronic tracking devices thefts can be reduced.”