Rural Crime Down By More Than One-Fifth in Scotland
Police Scotland has reported a 21% drop in rural crime in 2017.
The first year of the Livestock Worrying Campaign 2015/16 recorded 191 acts of rural crime in Scottish farms and as of December 2017, this number had fallen to 151.
Police Scotland and The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) began working together in 2015. Their Livestock Worrying Campaign runs for one month and takes place twice a year.
The campaign aims to regulate data recording of farming incidents in Scotland and improve the training of officers who are expected to carry out detailed investigations and provide accurate crime prevention advice.
Head of the campaign and national rural crime co-ordinator, inspector Jane Donaldson said: “the reduction in reported crime is one measure of the success of these campaigns. Our partnership approach also improves our social media engagement; all helping to spread the key messages.”
Findings of the campaign show that local dogs are the biggest threat to farmers in Scotland and attacks are most common in spring and November.
Donaldson said: “these crimes are wholly preventable and dog owners need to understand that it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase.”
The data received from SPARC has helped Police Scotland to target prevention messages to local dog owners during periods of high crime.
With communication at the heart of the Livestock Worrying Campaign, Police Scotland encourage farmers to report all incidents immediately to local police authorities.
Donaldson also commented on the high number of unreported crimes before the campaign launch. She said: “we had anecdotal evidence that farmers were not reporting crime to police and this made it difficult for us to identify the true extent of the problem.”
Elma Cunningham, a South Lanarkshire farmer and victim of rural crime, said: “our main source of income comes from sheep farming, so a lot is at stake. This is our livelihood and more needs to be done.”
“These crimes are wholly preventable and dog owners need to understand that it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase.”-Jane Donaldson
Earlier in the year, the Scottish Government reported a profit of £203m generated by sheep farming alone in 2016.
With the help of the campaign, Police Scotland intend to continue the widespread education of dog owners on responsible walking in the countryside next year.
If you have been affected by rural crime, Police Scotland urge you to contact them immediately. For Scottish residents, the emergency contact number is 101 and for all UK residents, the phone number is 01786 289 070.