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Raising awareness of rural crime

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By Fiona Reid
Raising awareness of rural crime

POLICE, politicians and farmers came together to raise awareness of rural crime.

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper joined Police Scotland’s wildlife crime officer John Cowan and representatives of Scottish Land and Estates at Wallet Mart Agricultural Auction in Castle Douglas

It followed on from NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Survey, which estimated that criminal activity cost those living in Scotland’s countryside around £1.9 million in 2020. The most common items stolen in Scotland over the last 12 months were quad bikes, tools and fuel such as domestic heating oil and ‘red’ diesel, while livestock rustling was also identified as a pressing issue.

As well as the important issue of rural crime, Ms Harper was also able to discuss the issue of livestock worrying with the farmers present and was able to raise awareness that her Dogs: (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Act is now in force and increases the penalties available to the courts, including a fine of £40,000, disqualification from owning a dog, or a 12 month custodial sentence.

She said: “It was great to get along to Wallet Mart to join Police Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates.

“We had many discussions with farmers about the very real impact of rural crime on Scotland’s farmers, so it was good to see the work Police Scotland are doing to help farmers know which steps they can take – such as installing CCTV on farm – to protect themselves.

“While I was at the Mart, I was able to raise awareness of the legislation I took through the Scottish Parliament which updated the 67 year old livestock worrying Act which is now in force. Attacks on livestock by out of control dogs have serious financial and emotional consequences to farmers and their families.

“I will continue to work with all involved in the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, and with our agricultural sector, to see instances of rural crime, and dog attacks on livestock, decrease.”

John Cowan, wildlife crime officer with Dumfries and Galloway Police, added: “Police Scotland and rural crime officers, including Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, have worked closely over the years with Ms Harper and key stakeholders such as Scottish Land & Estates and the National Farmers Union, to bring together amendments to archaic legislation which did not provide adequate protections for victims of crime. Ms Harper’s Act encourages more people to behave responsibly when walking their dogs in or around farmland with the new penalties hopefully acting as an appropriate deterrent to those who are not.”

Dumfries and West, Front

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