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Govt Must Listen To Rural Crime Concerns

ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff today said the theft of $300,000 worth of livestock from an Otago farmer would contribute to the growing sense of insecurity among rural communities.

"This latest case of stock theft comes as no surprise. Rural crime is skyrocketing. Recorded crime in rural Otago went up 7.1 percent, between 2001 and 2002, according to the latest police figures," Mr Eckhoff said.

"This is a stunning indictment on Police Minister George Hawkins and Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton, both of whom appear oblivious to the concerns of rural New Zealand.

"The constant downsizing of police ratios in rural Otago has led to the resignation of senior staff. This situation will only continue to worsen under Labour's soft-on-crime approach.

"ACT advocates a zero-tolerance approach to crime. Overseas evidence shows it works and that we could reduce crime overnight.

"The Government appears to have washed its hands of rural New Zealand. Ministers' Hawkins and Sutton must tell farmers how they intend dealing with the sharp rise is rural crime - not sit on their hands as they are usually more inclined to do," Mr Eckhoff said.

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