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    Agricultural crime’s mental health impact on farmers to be put under spotlight

    Posted 4 April 2023

    "Understanding and managing the mental health of farmers, and how it is affected by crime, is hugely important in helping to make sure our farmers are resilient."

    A CCTV sign on a countryside gate

    The impact of agricultural crime on the mental health of British Farmers is set to be examined via a new PhD post at Harper Adams University.

    The post’s Director of Studies will be Rural Criminologist Dr Kreseda Smith, who has carried out world-first research on the issue. It will see a researcher working to assess farmers’ mental health via a series of questionnaires and interviews over an extended period of time, as well as analysing case studies on the issue.

    Dr Smith said: “Agricultural crime is a fact of life for British farmers – but we don’t fully understand the impact it can have on their mental health.

    “Decisions made under stress are often ineffective, and so understanding and managing the mental health of farmers, and how it is affected by crime, is hugely important in helping to make sure our farmers are resilient.

    “Much of the existing research into agricultural crime focuses almost exclusively on its financial impact, rather than the impact it has on farmer mental health.

    “Indeed, to date, little research has examined how agricultural crime impacts the mental health of farmers beyond my own recent work.

    “This project will extend that research by providing an in-depth, long-term exploration of the lived experiences of farmers who have been a victim of crime.”

    The impact of rural crime has been a key focus for the Rural Resilience Research Group, a dedicated research centre at Harper Adams. The Centre’s interdisciplinary team of criminologists, behavioural scientists, geographers, and agriculturalists have strived to examine and address emerging risks to the rural economy and food chain.

    The new researcher will work alongside key figures from the group – including Dr Smith – as well as a series of other experts.

    Dr Smith added: “The PhD’s second supervisor is an expert in agricultural systems and human terrain analysis, among other novel methods.

    “Further additional supervision providing detailed mental health and psychological guidance will be provided by a Consultant Psychologist, and there will also be expert practitioner guidance from a specialist from the Ministry of Defence’s Mental Health Network.

    “This research would suit anyone with an interest in the wider impacts of agricultural crime.

    “They would, ideally, have expertise in criminology, psychology, or a related social science subject – and experience of both qualitative and quantitative research would be beneficial due to the nature of the project.”

    To find out more about the role and apply, visit: by Sunday, April 30.

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