GWENT’S Police and Crime Commissioner met with farmers and representatives from an anti-crime scheme he supports to discuss its effectiveness yesterday.

PCC Ian Johnston met Howard Vickery on his Crumlin farm to talk about the effectiveness of the Online Watch Link (OWL) service that has reduced farm crime by more than 27 per cent in five months. The service is used by 37,000 across Gwent.

Mr Vickery's farm had been repeatedly targeted by thieves who stole all the chainsaws from his workshop and quad bikes three times before he joined the OWL Farm Watch scheme.

Mr Johnston said: “Farmers can often feel isolated in rural areas but OWL is an effective and valuable tool which helps to reassure our farming community and prevents and deters criminals from actively targeting farmers."

And Mr Vickery said: “I’m a big supporter of the OWL system. It’s just brilliant and the only people who don’t like it are the criminals.”

OWL sends out targeted messages by email, phone or text message about crimes and other problems in areas to members.

It is supported by Neighbourhood Watch and has 5,500 watches across Gwent, including Farm Watch.

And Farm Watch, which is coordinated by CSO Allan Mills, has increased its membership from 300 to 800 since September 2013.

And it recently scooped an award for Outstanding National Rural Crime Initiative at the National Metal Theft Awards in London.

Among the police successes achieved by the Farm Watch scheme, a warrant on a Newport farm was issued to recover a stolen digger worth £20,000, and two offenders were arrested after 63 thefts of Mercedes catalytic converters.

For further information about OWL and to sign up as a member or become a co-ordinator on any of their watches, visit