The Plant & Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU) is a specialist police unit that was set up in October 2008. It has until now been hosted by the Metropolitan Police Service. It is funded – or meant to be – by donations from the big insurance companies and organisations in the construction and agricultural sectors. Backers also include A-Plant and GAP.
However, the Met Police has also had to bear some of the financial burden and it seems that it is no longer willing to do so. PANIU's doors are closed and the phones are not being answered.
A statement on PANIU’s website says: “As of Monday 3rd June 2019 the Plant & Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU) was suspended while a new national location is identified for the unit.
“PANIU had been hosted by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and funded by donations from industry. A failure to agree a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) meant that the MPS had borne the financial cost of supporting a national unit and this position was unsustainable.
“The MPS would on behalf of the PANIU team like to thank all for supporting this unit which has helped to reduce the theft of plant and agricultural equipment.”
Calls to the PANIU hotline are greeted with the automated message: “Please don’t leave a message as it will not be listened to or acted upon.”
PANIU exists – or did exist; its future is now uncertain – to gather and disseminate intelligence nationally to assist police in investigating criminal networks who steal plant machinery, to help get the crooks arrested and stolen machinery recovered.
In the first six months of 2018 there were 1,256 construction or agricultural plant thefts in mainland UK, according to PANIU’s most recently published report.
PANIU maintains a comprehensive database of stolen machinery, which receives data not only from the Police National Computer (PNC) but also from the majority of the major insurers in the current market. PANIU also provides advice on specialist areas such as the identification of plant and agricultural machinery.
PANIU works with partners including the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the National Crime Agency (NCA), The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), government agencies and departments such as Europol and Interpol along with our PANIU Partners which include insurance firms, hirers, tracking companies and construction and agricultural associations.
PANIU was founded to work with the Construction Equipment Security & Registration (CESAR) plant marking and registration scheme owned by the Construction Equipment Association (CEA) and supported by the Agricultural Engineers Association. Today the CESAR database holds records on more than 320,000 pieces of equipment.
The CEA said: that plans were ‘well advanced for a successor organisation to PANIU’.
Keith Dolbear, chair of the CESAR review committee said, “We are grateful for the contribution PANIU has made over the years and it leaves an important legacy. We hope to be able to make an announcement concerning the new police resource arrangements in the near future. The Metropolitan Police have pledged to assist in the smooth transition of PANIU responsibilities to the new set up. Meanwhile our CESAR team is continuing to work proactively to combat crime in the construction and agricultural sectors.”