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Farm Watch expands in rural crime fight

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By Fiona Reid
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Farm Watch expands in rural crime fight

POLICE have expanded the successful ‘Farm Watch’ initiative, hailed as a proven weapon in combating rural crime.

And they have received the support of Dumfriesshire MSP Dr Elaine Murray, deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee.

The scheme, run in partnership with NFU Scotland (NFUS), has been rolled out across many parts of Dumfries and Galloway over a number of years.

It involves sharing alerts and crime prevention information relating specifically to farms, small-holdings and other country properties.

Police Scotland and NFUS are encouraging as many rural dwellers and businesses as possible to join the scheme and take up an offer for police to provide farm security advice.

Rural crime is costing those who live and work in the Scottish countryside almost £2million a year, with the most common items targeted by thieves being quad bikes, tools and fuel.

Dr Murray has held a meeting with NFUS members and Police Scotland officers to discuss the impact of rural crime and the further development of the scheme in the region.

She said: “We cannot underestimate the devastating impact agricultural theft can have.

“Of course you have the initial blow to the business if valuable machinery or tools are stolen, but it’s also the knock on effect to the farm that people fail to recognise.”

Dr Murray pointed out that with so many organised and opportunistic thieves in the area it was important they all work together to prevent crimes from taking place.

She said: “That’s why I’m happy to throw my weight behind Farm Watch and I would encourage all farmers in the region to sign up to the scheme.”

Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland vice-president, said: “We would encourage all our members across Dumfries and Galloway to sign up to Farm Watch and help lower the rural crime rates across the region.

“It is not just about the impact to our businesses but also the people – who are the victims of the crime.”

PICTURE:

RURAL FIGHTBACK . . . Dumfriesshire MSP Dr Elaine Murray with police officers and members of a local Farm Watch as the latest phase of the scheme is launched

NEWSDESK: 01461-202417

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