VICTORIA needs a dedicated full-time squad working on farm theft, says the head of Australian Livestock and Property Agents.
It follows the revelation in The Weekly Times last week that Victoria Police's planned livestock and rural crime unit would have no dedicated member, but consist of a loose group of liaison officers.
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ALPA is part of Victoria's livestock theft and farm crime specialist strategic advisory group, which also includes Victorian Farmers Federation, Department of Primary Industries and Municipal Association of Victoria.
ALPA chief executive Andy Madigan said ALPA would prefer a model that included a dedicated livestock squad.
"We would be wanting dedicated officers, just like they have in NSW to have people with an understanding of livestock," Mr Madigan said.
Grassroot VFF members also favoured a dedicated squad, despite the federation's strong support of the planned strategy of training 38 existing police as agricultural liaison officers, rather than employing a few full-time livestock squad officers "who would struggle to serve the whole state".
A number of VFF members contacted by The Weekly Times said they wanted a dedicated squad with industry knowledge.
Calulu cattle producer Rob Grant was a victim of cattle theft about four years ago.
"I think (the livestock unit) should have expertise and individual employment in the livestock squad investigating that theft," Mr Grant said.
Giffard farmer and WoolProducers board member Steve Harrison was disappointed the police unit wouldn't have dedicated members.
"The VFF has worked hard. I'm supportive of (them), there is a lot of rural crime around at the moment in our area," Mr Harrison said.
MAV president Bill McArthur said he supported Victoria Police's approach, including the appointment of agricultural liaison officers.