There has been a 21% increase in the number of agricultural crime incidents reported to police, new figures published by the PSNI show.

In the 2022/23 financial year, there were 237 cases of burglary, robbery and theft on NI farms, up from 196 incidents the year previous.

However, it marks only the second time during the past 10 years when agricultural crime increased during a financial year. The annual total for 2022/23 also remains well below the 10-year average of 463 cases.

Across the 11 policing districts in NI, the highest rate of agricultural crime occurred Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, where 41 incidents were reported during 2022/23. The next highest total was 39 incidents in Newry, Mourne and Down.

Asides from Belfast city, the policing district with the lowest total was Ards and North Down, where only three agricultural crimes were reported over the 12-month period.

The total number of crimes occurring in rural areas of NI stood at 4,130 during the 2022/23 year. The figure, which includes all types of crime and not just those related to farming, is 9% higher than the 3,778 cases reported to the PSNI a year earlier.

The new figures show that crimes in urban areas remain the biggest challenge for the PSNI. Of the 25,210 crimes reported in NI last year, less than 1% were related to agriculture and only 16% occurred in rural areas.