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Call for action over rural crime blight

Finlay Carson MSP

THE cost of rural crime has jumped as thieves target high-value farm machinery and livestock and now there are calls for action. Finlay Carson, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP, wants tougher measures to tackle rural crime. It comes after NFU Mutual's Crime Report said organised gangs are targeting farm machinery, with the National Farmers Union assessing the cost of vehicle and livestock theft at £2.3 million. Mr Carson, who has consistently raised concerns over crime blighting rural areas, says this report must be a wakeup call for the SNP Government to take rural crime more seriously. He suggested the Scottish Government look into how local authorities could increase the number of countryside rangers in the region, many of whom have been lost in recent years. "Not only would they be a visual deterrent to criminals, but they would be there to provide visitors with local information and ensure they respect our beautiful countryside. "The rangers should be supported by an increased rural police presence to assist in dealing with rural theft and wildlife crime." Mr Carson added: “It is hugely concerning to see this significant increase in rural crime over the last year. “It is clear there are significant problem with organised gangs who are continuing to blight rural communities which needs to be cracked down. “This report needs to be a wake-up call for the SNP Government to take the rise in rural crime far more seriously than they are currently and know that those committing crimes will be met with the full force of the law. “The Covid-19 lockdown has also seen our rural communities blighted by fly-tipping and irresponsible camping in particular which is totally irresponsible and only puts off others visiting our wonderful beauty spots. “In recent years, we have lost almost all our countryside rangers and I don't think it's a coincidence that has come with an increase in crime and unsociable behaviour in our countryside. “Those cuts need to be reversed with the resources given to our rural communities backed up by an increased police presence." Police Scotland Inspector Alan Dron said: "There has not been a significant rise in additional crimes occurring in rural communities but those which have been committed have resulted in higher value claims, supporting evidence that increasingly serious organised crime groups are targeting and influencing rural crime. "We have the capability to stop people intent on committing crimes, disrupt them in any way we can plus been able to put some prolific criminals behind bars."

<< back Published: 05 Aug 2020, 18:15

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