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Farm machinery and equipment theft bill nears royal assent

Sep 14, 2023Sep 14, 2023

A parliamentary bill that seeks to prevent the theft and resale of quad bikes, expensive tools and other agricultural equipment is set to receive royal assent.

Conservative MP for Buckingham Greg Smith's Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is expected to be signed into law by King Charles on 16 July.

Mr Smith said it would take about a year for the bill to become an Act of Parliament, during which time the government would focus on setting the secondary legislation, including what standards of forensic marking should apply.

See also: Rural crime tsar ‘devastated’ after livestock worrying act dropped

The NFU and NFU Mutual has been working with the MP on the bill.

Speaking at the NFU's first ever National Rural Crime Unit Conference on Monday 5 June, Mr Smith said the Home Office was consulting on the bill, which seeks to shut down the thieves’ ability to resell stolen equipment through forensic marking.

Step one of the bill would allow the UK government to make regulations requiring immobilisers and forensic marking to be fitted as standard on all new ATVs, including quad bikes.

The bill could also make a requirement for all ATV sales to be recorded on a database. It would extend to England and Wales.

Step two of the bill could make forensic marking of expensive power tools – typically those valued at £500 or more – a universal requirement.

Addressing police rural crime leads from 40 UK police forces, Mr Smith said: "If we can always track where that bit of equipment has come from, then we can record it, certainly within the domestic market at least.

"It's about cutting off the ability of criminals to monetise and resell these bits of equipment."

Mr Smith said the government could introduce secondary legislation under the bill to apply it to other pieces of agricultural equipment, such as GPS kits and high-value parts of combines or sprayers.

Meanwhile, the Home Office is this week expected to announce an additional £200,000 of funding for UK police forces to share intelligence to tackle rural crime.