Lancashire college team up with police to create groundbreaking virtual reality device to combat rural crime

Myerscough College have teamed up with Lancashire Police to launch a ground-breaking new rural crime prevention tactic.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 11th March 2022, 12:30 pm

In what is believed to be a first in the country, the partnership has created Farm Defender, a virtual reality (VR) experience that uses computer technology to create a simulated farm environment.

>>>Access Farm Defender here

Accessed via a smartphone, users are immersed in and able to interact with the 3D world. It is designed to educate users about the points on their farm which are vulnerable to organise d crime gangs and offers advice on how to protect their equipment and property.

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The Myerscough team with police at Farm Defender's launch

Where did the idea come from?

It is the concept of Sgt Guy Hamlett from Lancashire Police’s Wyre Local Policing Team, who wants to reduce the risks of rural communities being targeted by criminals and organised crime gangs. His idea has then been brought to life by experts and students at Myerscough College.

Sgt Hamlett said: “Sadly, farms can be seen as easy targets by criminals, who cause misery by stealing essential machinery, working dogs and livestock.

‘’Crime prevention is crucial in enabling people to be one step ahead of criminals and take action where needed to reduce vulnerabilities.”

>>>What is rural crime? Click here.

At Myerscough, the initiative has been driven by the College’s e-Learning Team, with the project led by Adrian Capstick, in conjunction with current learners on agriculture study programmes.

"Target harden”

David Singleton, lecturer in agriculture, said: ‘’We started off by looking at the fact that rural crime affects many people across Lancashire and more widely across the country, and we wanted to look at ways of minimising the risk of farms being targeted.

‘’So, myself and my agriculture students then put something together that could inform the public on how they could ‘target harden’ their machines and equipment.

‘’This initiative will be of significant benefit, not only to our students, but also to the wider young farming community, to best equip the next generation of the agricultural sector workforce to combat crime.’’

Police and Crime Commissioner

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said: "I want Lancashire to lead the way nationally on fighting rural crime and remain fully committed to ensuring that all areas of Lancashire, both urban and rural, are safe and protected.

"It's fantastic to see the use of digital innovation to support this work and to help rural communities to protect themselves."