Speak up about those harming our treasured countryside

Crimestoppers in partnership with Network Rail has launched a new campaign encouraging people to speak up about those causing harm and damage to Scotland’s countryside and their vital communities.

The initiative comes as the international tourist season returns following years of pandemic restriction.

With many people planning trips to the countryside, the anticipated impact of large visitor numbers and effects of rural crime can be devastating to the environment.

Crimestoppers gives the public an alternative option, namely, to pass on what they know about crime whilst never giving any personal details.

Monica McGinley, from Network Rail and Inspector Alan Dron, from SPARC launch the campaign. Pic James Chapelard.

NFU Mutual estimate that rural crime costs Scotland around £1.8 million annually, with levels reportedly increasing.

The consequences within a rural community or environment often has a much deeper and far-reaching impact, both on the victim and 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 give information anonymously.

The key crimes that Scotland’s rural areas experience are:

Postcards and posters will be shared as part of the campaign.

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 & cultural property crime Wildlife crime Wilful fire-raising

Angela Parker, National Manager for Crimestoppers Scotland, said: “Our campaign is encouraging the public to be aware of the harm rural crime and anti-social behaviour can inflict on the environment and the economy, from heritage crime, to wilful fire-raising and theft, these crimes often go unreported and can ruin lives, livelihoods and the rural environment.

Allan Brooking, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail Scotland, said: “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 Alan Dron, Rural & Acquisitive Crime Coordinator for Police Scotland, added: "The majority of individuals wanting to experience Scotland’s stunning cultural, historic and natural environments have a desire to do so responsibly and in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, the consequences of a rural incident or crime often has a deeper and far-reaching impact plus access rights are not an excuse for anti-social or illegal behaviour. Please respect our rural communities and countryside, leave no trace of your visit and don’t let any individuals spoil your experience.”