Police Scotland joins partners to tackle rural crime
Police Scotland is taking action to counter rural crime in co-operation with government and civic organisations.
A new national multi-agency rural crime prevention steering group including the Crown Office, National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Scottish Land Estates, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Scottish Government, and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will work to target offenders and enhance crime prevention.
The steering group will meet for the first time at the end of June.
Scottish Government minister for community safety and legal affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, said rural policing “presents unique and particular challenges”.
He added: “Working in partnership and sharing best practice across a range of national agencies is key to reducing the threat from crime to Scotland’s rural communities and key sections, such as agriculture, where crimes can prove devastating to a farm business in terms of livestock or equipment.
“This builds on the recent launch of two community-based Rural Watch schemes in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, and Perth and Kinross, and means the challenge of rural crimes is being addressed at both a local and national level.”
The new national steering group will co-ordinate and support local delivery. Following successful pilots in J Division (Lothians and Borders) and Q Division (Lanarkshire), each of Police Scotland’s 14 Divisions is introducing its own Rural and Wildlife Crime Governance Group which will include local partners.
According to NFU Mutual, rural communities are losing an estimated £1.9 million every year to crime.
Assistant chief constable Derek Robertson, Police Scotland’s rural crime lead, said: “Crime in rural Scotland can range from theft of agricultural machinery, vehicles, tools, livestock or fuel through to fireraising, housebreaking and vandalism.
“It can be perpetrated by opportunists or organised groups of criminals. We want to ensure that all communities in Scotland have the confidence that Police Scotland and partners are working hard to prevent crime.
“Rural communities contribute significantly to the economy and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure the criminal fraternity are hindered at every opportunity.”
Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, added: “Scotland in particular has seen certain types of crimes rising steadily, despite an overall reduction.
“Vehicle crime especially is a major concern in Scotland and we have seen a dramatic increase in claims around quad bikes, among other things. It is for these reasons that initiatives like the one being launched by Police Scotland are so important.
“It is only by bringing together police, communities and all of those affected by rural crime, that we can make a lasting impact on rural crime.”