Amy Watson: Farmers and police welcome decline in the cost of rural crime in Scotland

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The cost of rural crime such as livestock and tractor theft fell by 3.8 per cent in Scotland last year, according to insurers.

The figure contrasts with a 13.4 per cent rise across the UK and has been welcomed by Police Scotland.

The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report highlighted the work of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).

Chairman of the partnership, Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, said: “Across Scotland, rural partners and police have worked extremely hard to make a real difference to communities and the continued downward trend of crime figures in rural communities is an outcome linked to this approach.

“The close working with partner organisations means that we can quickly respond to emerging trends and crime hot spots and target those who pursue criminal activity in rural communities.

“This is a collective approach encompassing all members of SPARC and we continue to evolve to ensure we meet emerging threats and continue to support rural communities across Scotland.”

Of the UK regions Wales saw the sharpest rise in the cost of rural crime, up 41 per cent on 2016.

The North East was the only region in England which reported a fall, with the figure down 6.5 per cent.

Garden equipment, quad bikes and horseboxes were among the top 10 targeted items around the UK.

Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Craig Naylor, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for rural affairs, said: “The work done by SPARC is leading the way on reducing thefts of agricultural vehicles and the NPCC are keen to learn from this experience and bring the tactics to forces in England and Wales.”

The figures follow the announcement of a new partnership between Scotland’s largest machinery ring and leading rural insurers.

The new partnership will provides Ringlink’s 2,900 members across the country with access to health and safety advice provided by NFU Mutual’s network of risk management consultants.

The scheme will see reports produced on the potential ­hazards identified on farms and solutions to remove or manage the risks offered.