§ Mr. John Patten
Information about the number of farmwatch schemes is not held centrally. Farmwatch is one of a number of variations of the neigbourhood watch concept; others include hospital watch and business watch. The number of such schemes continues to grow and we are much encouraged by this evidence of the willingness of so many individuals to work together, and with the police, to help prevent crime in their areas.
§ Mr. Key
Will my hon. Friend join in congratulating the Wiltshire constabulary on its initiation of the scheme, which has led not only to a decrease in rural crime, including farm theft, illegal hare coursing and other crimes, but to an improvement in the use of police resources and help with the scheme from the whole community, including environmental groups and shooting clubs?
§ Mr. Patten
The answer to that is yes. The type of work that is being carried out in the Amesbury sub-division of the Wiltshire police area is exemplary. I hope that other 1086 such areas up and down the country which face the problems of rural crime will think about going along the same path.[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Skinner
What assistance will the Minister give those on the farmwatch scheme to stop the property developers and the city slickers preying on the land, buying it and then turning it into suburbialand, thus changing the natural beauty of Britain?
§ Mr. Patten
That is an interesting development of the farmwatch concept, but I am happy to say that it is one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.