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Police Aiming to Reduce Rural Crime in Scotland

Scotland’s police force is cracking down on rural crimes across the country with the help of the Scottish Government and other partners.

The new initiative follows successful pilots Lothian as well as Lanarkshire.

Other parties that will be working with the police to target rural criminals/crimes, which is thought to cost remote communities in excess of 1.9million a year, include NFU Mutual, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Land and Estates, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, National Farmers’ Union (Scotland), Scottish Land and Estates and Scottish Business Resilience Centre.

A newly created strategy, the aim of which is to prevent crime, encourage investigation and reduce the threat in rural communities, is to be implemented by a national multi-agency rural crime prevention steering group. It is hoped that said steering group, made up of members from the aforementioned organisations will be able to draw from their own experiences to identify and develop the best practices for cutting rural crime in Scotland.

Commenting on the initiative, Derek Robertson, who is the Assistant Chief Constable in Rural Crime, stated:

“Crime in rural Scotland can range from theft of agricultural machinery, vehicles, tools, livestock or fuel through to fire raising, housebreaking and vandalism.
“It can be perpetrated by opportunists or organised groups of criminals who travel the countryside specifically targeting rural locations.

“We want to ensure that all communities in Scotland have the confidence that Police Scotland and partners are working hard to prevent crime and if they are in fact affected by crime, they can report it with appropriate action taken and robust investigations to trace those responsible.

“Rural communities contribute significantly to the economy through agriculture, tourism and leisure and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure the criminal fraternity are hindered at every opportunity.”

Also commenting, Gavin Robertson, who is the tactical lead for rural crime in Scotland, stated:
“From the economic impact of rural crime on communities to the personal impact that becoming a victim of crime can have, there is no doubt that a co-ordinated, preventative approach can make a real difference.

“We are working to target-harden rural communities and deter criminals. We know that we cannot achieve this alone and so this work is being carried out with a wide range of partners.

“Our message is clear, rural communities are not safe havens for criminals. We will target them wherever they operate and we will work with our partners to ensure that our communities take prevention measures to cut off opportunities for criminal gain.”

Speaking as the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, stated:

“Rural policing presents unique and particular challenges and I warmly welcome the introduction of the rural crime prevention steering group to focus on these important issues.

“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.”

COPFS Head of Policy, Catriona Dalrymple, stated:

“I want those who live in rural and agricultural communities to know that we are on their side, that we are working hard to ensure that they are protected, and when crime does happen it will be dealt with effectively.

“We welcome any measures which will help to prevent rural crime, and the work of this group will closely complement our own on-going review of our prosecution policy.”

Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual said:

“Our claims data this year indicates an overall reduction in rural crime, which is great news. That said, the overall picture isn’t consistent everywhere and 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, amongst 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.”

Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Brian Gibson, stated

“The rural community is an important part of Scotland’s economic wellbeing, supplying produce to retail, locations and services for the tourist industry, the home to many of our whisky distilleries and much more. It is therefore essential that we provide the support and reassurance to those who live, work and visit our rural communities that every possible effort is being undertaken to provide and develop security and resilience. This initiative will provide a real framework for tackling crime, improving security and resilience. We look forward to working with all the agencies involved and importantly the businesses with the rural community.”

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