Rural crime initiative is having an impact

Chief Inspector Jim Royan.
Chief Inspector Jim Royan.

An initiative to tackle rural crime in the Borders has highlighted how the theft of quad bikes, livestock theft and vandalism has been reduced in the area in recent years.

Briefing members of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime Chief Inspector Jim Royan explained how a range of techniques was used to tackle the problem.

By working closely with communities, the Borders has created an environment which makes it very difficult for criminals to travel through and commit crime. The use of ‘No Cold Caller Zones’ in key locations, coupled with the innovative Scottish Borders Alert system, has meant that residents within the countryside have become much more vigilant towards suspicious behaviour and more willing to share information, allowing others to be aware of those intent on committing crime.

On-farm events held jointly by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and crime prevention officers have also been used to promote the use of the Selecta DNA property marking scheme, which makes it more difficult for thieves to retain and sell stolen property.

Combined with these efforts, proactive policing has arrested a significant increase in the theft of ATVs and quad bikes by identifying the most likely locations where these thefts take place, and targeting resources there. This has resulted in the number of thefts in Berwickshire alone reducing from 11 in 2013 to four last year and only two so far this year, following a number of high profile arrests.

The initiative also targeted the problem of sheep stealing by working with farmers to improve their security and management systems by exploiting the benefits of the electronic identification scheme introduced by the Government to monitor the movement and provenance of livestock.

Chief Inspector Royan said: “Vandalism and fire-raising are serious issues in the rural community and can have a devastating effect on rural dwellers and businesses, which includes farms, and we identified some children as being at risk of falling into criminality because of their behaviour. By giving them a structured introduction to life on the land, we were able to give them an appreciation of the effects of such behaviour on the whole community.”