Saturday, 21 October 2017

Farmer who started rural crime fighters quits at 81

THE head of a rural crime reporting network for South Oxfordshire is stepping down after seven years.

THE head of a rural crime reporting network for South Oxfordshire is stepping down after seven years.

Michael Colston, who owns Ewelme Park Farm near Nettlebed, founded Dogwatch following a spate of dog thefts from farms across the district.

The organisation now has 2,500 members across a third of a million acres in the Thames Valley and monitors all crimes affecting farmers and landowners.

It also records incidents of hare coursing, poaching and theft of fuel or farming equipment and helps the police to track down the culprits.

Mr Colston, 81, said he was stepping down due to his age but promised to carry on supporting the organisation as much as he could.

He said: “The decision has been at the back of my mind for some months but I wanted to make sure we had a smooth handover so I’ve been getting everything into place.

“We have built up a marvellous relationship with the police and I feel things are going from strength to strength. I’m proud of what we have done but we could not have achieved it without our members.

“Our membership has increased without us making an effort to publicise ourselves, which is truly astonishing.”

In the year before Dogwatch was founded, 25 working dogs were stolen from 10 gamekeepers in Nettlebed and surrounding villages.

At the time, Thames Valley Police counted these incidents as theft of property but Mr Colston persuaded them to categorise them separately.

The force has also assigned an officer to liaise with Dogwatch and share information about crimes across the region.

Mr Colston said: “If you are a gamekeeper or shepherd, losing a dog is like losing the tools of your trade. They are a valuable asset and can be worth £3,000 or £4,000 each.

“Working dogs are also family friends, so having one stolen is like a double whammy. I would urge all owners to have their dogs microchipped as it makes identification much easier.”

Mr Colston will be replaced by Alex Dick, who is manager of the Culden Faw estate near Fawley.

He said: “Alex has been working alongside me voluntarily for some years now. He is very keen on the enterprise and was the obvious choice to take over.

“I will of course take a keen interest in Dogwatch and will still help whenever I can they won’t get rid of me that easily.”







ENDS



THE head of a rural crime reporting network is stepping down after seven years.

Michael Colston, who owns Ewelme Park Farm, near Nettlebed, founded Dogwatch following a spate of dog thefts from farms across the area.

The organisation now has 2,500 members across a third of a million acres in the Thames Valley and monitors all crimes affecting farmers and landowners.

It also records incidents of hare coursing, poaching and theft of fuel or farming equipment and helps the police to track down the culprits. Mr Colston, 81, said he was stepping down due to his age but promised to carry on supporting the organisation as much as he could.

He said: “The decision has been at the back of my mind for some months but I wanted to make sure we had a smooth handover so I’ve been getting everything into place.

“We have built up a marvellous relationship with the police and I feel things are going from strength to strength. I’m proud of what we have done but we could not have achieved it without our members.

“Our membership has increased without us making an effort to publicise ourselves, which is truly astonishing.”

In the year before Dogwatch was founded, 25 working dogs were stolen from 10 gamekeepers in Nettlebed and surrounding villages.

At the time, Thames Valley Police counted these incidents as theft of property but Mr Colston persuaded them to categorise them separately.

The force has also assigned an officer to liaise with Dogwatch and share information about crimes across the region.

Mr Colston said: “If you are a gamekeeper or shepherd, losing a dog is like losing the tools of your trade. They are a valuable asset and can be worth £3,000 or £4,000 each.

“Working dogs are also family friends, so having one stolen is like a double whammy. I would urge all owners to have their dogs micro-chipped as it makes identification much easier.”

Mr Colston will be replaced by Alex Dick, who is manager of the Culden Faw estate, near Fawley.

He said: “Alex has been working alongside me voluntarily for some years now. He is very keen on the enterprise and was the obvious choice to take over.

“I will, of course, take a keen interest in Dogwatch and will still help whenever I can — they won’t get rid of me that easily!”

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