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Speak out about countryside and heritage crime, urges new Crimestoppers campaign

By Alan Beresford

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Fly-tipping - such as the example picture near the Gollachy Recycling Centre, Buckie - is one of the crimes targeted by the new campaign. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Fly-tipping - such as the example picture near the Gollachy Recycling Centre, Buckie - is one of the crimes targeted by the new campaign. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

A NEW campaign has been launched to encourage people tp speak up about those causing harm to Scotland’s heritage and countryside.

Run by the charity Crimestoppers - in partnership with Network Rail Scotland - the initiative comes as the international tourist season starts.

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 potential impact of large numbers of visitors can be devastating to the environment and harm Scotland’s rural and heritage crime

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

While the volume of crime in rural areas is lower than in urban locations, the consequences and impact within a rural community or environment can be much deeper, both on victims and the 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 to give information 100 per cent anonymously.

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. From the economy to heritage crime, wilful fire-raising and theft, these crimes often go unreported and can ruin lives, livelihoods and our countryside.”

Allan Brooking, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail Scotland, commented: “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 Jordan Low from Police Scotland’s Rural, Acquisitive and Business Crime Preventions Team, said: “Scotland is home to some of the most stunning cultural, historic and natural environments in the world which are enjoyed by a large number of people throughout the year. Protecting these areas for future generations is vitally important.

“Heritage crime is one of the priorities of the Scottish Partnership against Rural Crime (SPARC) and we are delighted to work in partnership with Crimestoppers and Network Rail to promote responsible, safe access to these historical sites and encourage people to report any anti-social or illegal behaviour to the Police or Crimestoppers to assist in helping to protect the heritage of Scotland for generations to come. Postcards and posters will be shared across Scotland, coupled with a social media campaign highlighting the key crimes affecting rural areas.”

Elizabeth McCrone, Director of Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland, added: “Scotland’s historic environment spans a rich collection of unique sites of national and international significance, including six UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 8000 scheduled monuments and 47,000 listed buildings.

“It is vital that we ensure these precious historic assets are safeguarded. Heritage Crime robs us of our history. We are delighted to work in partnership with Network Rail and Crimestoppers to raise awareness and promote responsible access.“

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 and cultural property crime including illegal metal detecting; Wildlife crime; Wilful fire-raising.

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