The UK has introduced its inaugural police officer specialising in livestock theft amidst reports indicating that this crime has inflicted £2.7m in losses upon farmers.

Martin Beck, boasting three decades of policing in rural domains, emerges as the pioneering national officer tasked with preventing livestock theft.

In his new capacity, Beck will spearhead Operation Foldyard, a novel initiative aimed at collating intelligence pertinent to livestock theft across the UK. This endeavour intends to collect and disseminate data on emerging theft patterns, collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to construct robust cases and bolster convictions.

The recruitment of Mr Beck was made possible through funding from NFU Mutual, empowering the National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU) to appoint him to this critical role.

His appointment coincides with livestock theft tallying an approximate £2.7m in losses for the year 2022, as per NFU Mutual's latest statistics.

Nevertheless, many police officers lack familiarity with tackling livestock theft, thus highlighting the necessity for Mr Beck's intervention.

Expressing his commitment, Beck affirmed that he would collaborate with police forces nationwide to enhance their understanding of this criminal activity.

Mr Beck said that, as part of the role, he would be working with police forces across the country to help them understand the crime.

“From my new base at the National Rural Crime Unit (NRCU), I will be working to ensure information is shared between the police forces and their key partners," Mr Beck, who worked for Devon and Cornwall Police, said.

“To help coordinate activity, the NRCU is introducing Operation Foldyard, which will share intelligence between police forces and partners including in the farming industry.

“As the intelligence picture grows, I expect to see individuals involved in livestock theft targeted and disrupted."

Farmers are regularly seeing both small and large numbers of thefts across the country, police forces have regularly warned.

The crime causes suffering to animals which are often treated badly by thieves and sometimes even slaughtered out in the fields.

Livestock theft is also a cause of food crime and can present a risk to public health as the quality and safety of stolen meat products cannot be guaranteed.

Mr Beck said the crime 'needs to be exposed for the harm it is causing', and that the people involved are 'criminals'.

He added: “While larger thefts can be high value and devastating for that farmer’s business, finding one or two of their flock butchered in their fields can be just as distressing.”