Major push to combat rural crime in Scotland


A rising wave of crime in Scotland's rural communities has prompted a ‘proactive and co-ordinated’ approach to the specific crimes affecting the country’s farms and rural areas.

A large cross-sector group has been created in Scotland to tackle rural crime over the next three years. The strategy has been developed by The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), a group made up of 16 different organisations including police, landowner associations, farming groups, environment, food and trade bodies.

The broad experience of the organisations involved in the strategy means that they have a strong understanding of how to target all sectors related to rural crime.

The strategy is to run until 2022 and encompasses a co-ordinated approach to promote and develop crime-resilient rural communities.

What is Rural Crime?

While generally in Scotland rural communities are a safe place to live and work, there are particular crimes which are more common due to the nature of these communities. This includes things such as livestock theft or endangerment, flytipping, machinery theft or interference, fuel theft and tools or horse theft.

SPARC has highlighted that it will use a combination of intelligence gathering, preventative measures and enforcement to meet the aims of the strategy. Seven member bodies of the group have been charged with tackling specific crimes, with each developing a specific detailed plan as to how they might target that crime.

Police Scotland has been charged with reducing machinery theft, and plan to take steps to intervene in the movement of criminal gangs on Scotland’s roads. They will work with the Rural Watch initiative and use technology to track the movements of criminals.

Police Scotland chief superintendent John McKenzie, chairman of SPARC, said :

“The volume of crime in rural communities and environments is often lower than in urban locations.

“But the consequences and impact of an incident or crime committed often have a much deeper, far-reaching impact, both on the victim and community as a whole.”

Police Scotland have included guidance on their website for rural property owners, encouraging them to keep their properties secure to deter crime. The advice has been designed as part of their prevention strategy, and to assure property owners that many simple measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood that they will be a victim of theft.

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