• Ayrshire Daily News

Charity urges Scots to speak up about those harming our treasured countryside

The charity Crimestoppers - in partnership with Network Rail - is today launching a new campaign encouraging people to speak up about those causing harm and damage to Scotland’s countryside and their vital communities.

The initiative comes as the international tourist season returns following years of pandemic restriction. Crimestoppers is independent of the police and gives the public an alternative option, namely, to pass on what they know about crime whilst never giving any personal details.

With many people planning trips to the countryside, the anticipated impact of large visitor numbers and effects of rural crime can be devastating to the environment.

Over 95% of Scotland is classed as rural and NFU Mutual estimate that rural crime costs Scotland around £1.8 million annually, with levels reportedly increasing.

Whilst the volume of crime in rural areas is lower than in urban locations, the consequences within a rural community or environment often has a much deeper and far-reaching impact, both on the victim and community as a whole.

Crimestoppers, together with Police Scotland and wider rural and environmental organisations, are asking the public to spot the signs of rural crime and give information 100% anonymously.

The key crimes that Scotland’s rural areas experience are:

• House-breaking

• Theft of farm equipment, vehicles and machinery

• Livestock-related crimes: theft and dog attacks

• Fly-tipping and industrial waste dumping

• Hare coursing and badger baiting

• Fuel theft – domestic and commercial

• Heritage & cultural property crime including illegal metal detecting

• Wildlife crime

• Wilful fire-raising

Angela Parker, National Manager for Crimestoppers Scotland, said:

‘Many of us will be enjoying the stunning scenery, events and activities Scotland has to offer. Our campaign is encouraging the public to be aware of the harm rural crime and anti-social behaviour can inflict on the environment and the economy, from heritage crime, to wilful fire-raising and theft, these crimes often go unreported and can ruin lives, livelihoods and the rural environment.

Allan Brooking, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail Scotland, said:

“Scotland’s Railway plays a vital role in connecting people with communities and attractions across the country, so it’s hugely important to us to help our partners protect rural areas from crime. We will be sharing the campaign’s message with passengers and railway staff will also be equipped with information on what to look out for.”

Inspector Alan Dron, Rural & Acquisitive Crime Coordinator for Police Scotland, added:

The majority of individuals wanting to experience Scotland’s stunning cultural, historic and natural environments have a desire to do so responsibly and in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, the consequences of a rural incident or crime often has a deeper and far-reaching impact plus access rights are not an excuse for anti-social or illegal behaviour. Please respect our rural communities and countryside, leave no trace of your visit and don’t let any individuals spoil your experience.

Postcards and posters will be shared across Scotland, coupled with a social media campaign highlighting the key crimes affecting rural areas.