NFU Scotland | /rural-crime.aspx

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Rural and Online Crime

There are a range of crimes impacting farmers and crofters during Coronavirus. It is important to remain vigilant about physical crimes, but also the threat of cybercrime.

Rural Watch
Is a notification service which is an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch Scotland movement and output of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC)

By joining the Rural Watch Scotland scheme, you can receive alerts and advice by phone, text or email. The aim of the scheme is to keep residents informed about crime and other threats in your area, to help prevent crime and keep your community safe. You can contact the service and join for updates here.

How do I report issues to Police Scotland?

If the situation is ongoing or urgent please call 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency), whichever is appropriate in the circumstances.

How do I report non-serious to issues to Police Scotland?

If you would like to report an issue of a non-serious nature which has occurred (I.e. is not ongoing), you can use the contact form to get in touch, available here.

Note, Police Scotland ask that you do not use the online form to report crime, call 101 or 999.

What should I do if I am concerned about suspicious activity on my farm?

Police Scotland have been very clear that, if you are worried about anyone on or around your farm who is acting suspiciously and you believe them to pose a criminal threat, you must contact the Police directly through 111 or 999, whichever is appropriate in the circumstances.

If the situation is ongoing or urgent please call 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency), whichever is appropriate in the circumstances.

If you discover a crime in progress, you should use 999 emergency number.

Members of the Rural Crime team within SPARC continue to monitor and collate  rural crime statistics through the main switchboard, so it is vital that members of the farming community continue to contact the Police directly if they are concerned about anyone who is acting suspiciously on or around your farm.

What steps should I take to report suspicious activity?

  1. It is important to report any occurrences or concerns to Police Scotland, using the appropriate numbers (101 for non-emergencies, 999 for emergencies).
  2. Do not approach or intervene in the situation yourself, as this may put you at risk.
  3. If it is safe to do so, try to gather information such as the vehicle registration or take photographs. Do not put yourself at risk.
  4. When you log the problem with Police Scotland, remember to take a note of the crime reference number.

In addition to notifying Police Scotland, you can notify fellow farmers and crofters in your area if there is suspicious activity:

  • You can advise your Regional Manager, who will be able to put a text out to local members to alert them of the situation,
  • You can notify Rural Watch, who will inform locals signed up to the service.


NFU Scotland is aware that some Household Waste Recycling Centres are being closed or operating on reduced hours due to COVID-19. This may result in increased instances of fly-tipping.

If you become a victim of fly-tipping, please log your case through the Dumb Dumpers in the first instance.  Dumb Dumpers can be accessed here.

You can also contact your Local Authority to report the crime, too.

Instances which are reported to Police Scotland should be given an incident number and you may be advised to report the situation through Dumb Dumpers or to the Local Authority, depending on the situation.

What happens when I report fly-tipping through the Dumb Dumpers website?

If fly-tipping is reported through the Dumb Dumpers website, Zero Waste Scotland will use this as evidence to address the problem through policy and legislative change.

Practically, if the incident is ongoing, or contains hazardous material, it will be forwarded to Police Scotland or SEPA as required.  If the incident is non-urgent and the waste is non-hazardous, the information will be passed to the local authority for investigation.

What happens if an incident is reported to the Police?

The first port of call to report fly-tipping should be through Dumb Dumpers or to your Local Authority. However, in some situations you may feel it is necessary to contact the Police directly.

If you contact the Police, the Operator may advise you to report the incident through the Dumb Dumpers or your Local Authority.  

The Operator will provide you with an incident number if they believe Officers need to attend the location, or if the incident is deemed to be a crime. Fly-tipping is a crime, in breach of Section 33 EPA 1990.

If Officers are dispatched to the incident, they will assess whether a crime or offense has taken place, and subsequently create a crime report. A ‘crime reference number’ will be subsequently generated, replacing the ‘incident number’.

If Officers attending the incident think there is insufficient evidence to create a crime report, the ‘incident number’ will be updated accordingly, but the incident will remain on the system and can be used for future reference using the ‘incident reference number’.

What is being done to prevent fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence.  Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government, SEPA and Local Authorities have collaborated to launch a new, public-facing website to provide information about waste collections during Coronavirus, available here

The website includes a section on fly-tipping, including key prompts householders should check if they have waste uplifted from their homes by a private company. Householders must:

  • Ensure the service they have hired has a valid Waste Carriers Registration,
  • Confirm the number the service provide is on the Waste Carriers Register to make sure it is valid, available here
  • Ask where the waste will be taken. Waste must be taken to a licensed named facility that is authorised to take the waste, not just “a yard”.

How can I keep up to date with the latest scams?

Trading Standards Scotland provide an overview of scams which are impacting Scottish consumers. More information from Trading Standards Scotland is available here.

How can I keep up to date about cybercrime?

Due to the significant increase in COVID-19 related scams, the Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Unit has developed a bulletin to update businesses with important cyber security information from trusted sources, including: Trading Standards Scotland, Police Scotland and the National Cyber Security Centre, Police Scotland. You can access the cybercrime resilience notices here.

I have heard about scams related to the NHS contact tracing services, what should I be wary of?

Scammers are trying to get people to share their personal details and details of others you may have been in contact with.  We have also heard reports of scammers asking people to provide payment details for COVID-19 tests.

Currently, we have been made aware of scams related to the Test and Trace system, which is being used to trace close contacts in England. However, it is important to remain vigilant as scammers will exploit any opportunity related to the NHS contact tracing services to get personal and sensitive information.

If you have received any unusual message or calls, you can report it to Action Fraud.

I have received an email from HMRC, is it a scam?

HMRC are aware that there has been a significant increase in scams, emails and texts from scammers claiming to be HMRC.

If someone gets in touch with you, claiming to be from HMRC, stating financial help can be claimed or tax refund is owed and asking you to click on a link of give information (e.g. name, bank details, or credit card details) it is a scam. Do not respond.

HMRC are asking that suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC should reported by sending them to Texts should be sent to 60599.

What kind of email scams are happening?

NFU Scotland is aware of a range of scam emails related to Coronavirus which are circulating.
Examples include:

  • Phishing emails linked to Zoom, the web conferencing tool. Scammers are sending emails which appear to be from a work colleague, inviting you to take park in an important meeting or conference. The link will send you to a clone Zoom website, where you will be asked to enter your email password.

Remember, you will not need to enter your password if invited to a Zoom meeting. If you are invited to participate in an NFUS Zoom meeting, you will have prior notification. If you are unsure, contact the relevant member of staff directly.

  • Emails from a fake HMRC account requesting sensitive and private information regarding tax refunds due to COVID-19,
  • SMS scams from a fake HMRC account telling recipients they have been fined £250 for leaving the house, 
  • Email phishing scams from fake local authority email addresses requesting payment for school meals,
  • SMS scams telling customers they can access a ‘goodwill payment’ from HMRC.

What should I do if I receive a phishing email or text?

It is important to be extra vigilant at the moment.  If you are unsure if about whether the communication is from a genuine source:

  • Never give our private information (such as bank details or passwords),
  • Do not reply to text messages or emails, 
  • Do not download any attachments, 
  • Do not click on any links on emails or text messages.

HMRC have requested that suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC should reported to them by sending them to Texts should be sent to 60599.

You can report fraud and cybercrime via Action Fraud here or get advice by calling: 0300 123 2040

Where can I get more information?

  • Information about how to improve your online security and updates about scams from the National Cyber Security Centre, here
  • UK Government Guidance about internet scams and phishing, including HMRC phishing scams, available here
  • Scottish Government Cyber Resilience COVID-19 Bulletin, sign up here
  • Guidance from Police Scotland regarding fraud is available here
  • If you have been affected by any scams, you can contact Advice Direct Scotland for advice and support here

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