£70,000 to help fight rural crime

Fife farmer Allan Bowie has been elected the 61st President of NFU Scotland.
Fife farmer Allan Bowie has been elected the 61st President of NFU Scotland.

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement of £70,000 which will fund a full-time post within Police Scotland to move rural and agricultural crime policy forward.

At NFU Scotland’s AGM today (Friday 12 February), the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) announced the funding from leading rural insurer NFU Mutual for a year’s post to take forward the initiative.

NFU Scotland has worked closely with Police Scotland over the last 18 months to influence an increased focus on rural and agricultural crime in its remit.

As well as inputting into national SPARC meetings, NFU Scotland has been active at a regional level with local Rural Watch initiatives set up in many areas in conjunction with Police Scotland as well as on farm events with members.

In addition, the Union has been working closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service on a refresh of agricultural crime prosecution policy.

NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie commented: “NFU Scotland has been extremely encouraged by the work undertaken by SPARC to this point.

“The Union has been instrumental in re-focussing rural crime within Police Scotland’s remit and positive change has taken place in recent times.

“We have held a number of very successful events on farms for members at a regional level to encourage members to take simple precautions to protect their farms, but also how to correctly report a crime or suspicious activity.

“This work will continue over the coming year and we look forward to further collaboration with Police Scotland and other stakeholders.”

Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson said: “We have made significant progress in building partnerships across Scotland to more effectively tackle rural crime. This sponsorship consolidates and builds on activity over the last 12 months and is a real vote of confidence in the commitment of Police Scotland, SPARC and its members to tackling crime in rural communities.

“As outlined in our recent written submission to Justice Committee, SPARC partnership activity takes the form of prevention, investigation, intelligence gathering and enforcement, specifically targeting resources at the key rural crime issues affecting each local area.

“At the SPARC meeting on 26 January 2016, members were advised, by NFU Mutual, that its claims data showed that the partnership working driven and supported by SPARC is already showing what it described as “impressive results”.”

Martin Malone of leading rural insurer NFU Mutual stated: “NFU Mutual is delighted to be financially supporting SPARC. This is a key initiative in supporting our members’ concerns around rural crime, through our network of 34 offices across Scotland and we are working closely with Police Scotland to reduce the impact rural crime has on our members.”