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President's Blog - 14 August 2017

It seems like every week of the year now, NFU Scotland uses its communications channels – text messaging, emails, Facebook and Twitter – to alert farmers and crofters to criminal activity in the countryside and the need for vigilance and action on their part.

In the past few days we have been informing our members about sheep, quad and tractor thefts; poaching and hare-coursing incidents.

Given the blight that rural crime is placing on our communities, NFUS is working closer than ever with Police Scotland and local police forces to combat this – whether that be the theft of vehicles, livestock, fuel, tools or metal or incidents of livestock worrying and fly-tipping.  The number of arrests and convictions shows that taking action does work and the cost of crime in rural crime in Scotland has dropped.  But there is no room for complacency.

NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report out today (14 August) shows rural crime cost Scotland £1.6m in 2016, which is down an encouraging 32% from £2.4m in 2015. However, there are signs the cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017.

Working with Police Scotland, NFUS has held numerous on-farm events round the country in the past two years where members have received valuable tips on how to tackle crime and protect their property.  A few simple tips, such as moving fuel tanks indoors; security tagging equipment or padlocking gates and doors can be enough to keep goods safe.

Crucially, all types of crime and theft usually involve transport and the police are crystal clear that they want those who live and work in the countryside to report suspicious vehicles.  Calling the 101 number with the vehicle registration lets the Police decide if that lorry, van or car has a valid reason to be at that place.

And all those who live and work in rural Scotland are urged to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.  You can either do this by using the non-emergency number 101 or, if you suspect that a crime is in progress then you should dial 999 and not attempt to tackle these people yourself.

Criminals, whether organised or opportunistic, will often look for the easiest target and we urge our farmers and crofters to consider some or all of the following to protect their property.

  • Keep your farmhouse securely locked at all times.
  • Make sure that outbuildings and sheds, particularly where valuable farm equipment like tractors and quads are stored, are locked when not in use. 
  • Wherever possible make sure that gates are closed and if practicable secured. 
  • Security mark your property and equipment. 
  • Consider installation of lighting, CCTV or an alarm system.
  • Use signage to advertise that your home or business is protected by security systems and that property has been security marked.
  • Take photographs of high value items of property and equipment.
  • Record serial numbers or identify marks on property or equipment.
  • Secure your fuel tank.
Great strides are being made in tackling the blight of rural crime in Scotland and NFU Scotland is fully committed to making sure that crime in the countryside does not pay.

Author: Andrew McCornick

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About The Author

Andrew McCornick

Andrew, who is married with three sons and a daughter, was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. Andrew and wife Janice farm their 230+ ha unit with 160 suckler cows and 600 breeding ewes with a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. Andrew's sons farm a nearby tenanted unit which frequently provides replacement breeding stock for Barnbackle. For as long as Andrew can remember, he has been a member of the Union, and got more involved when the consultation for Nithsdale NVZ came out. From there he went onto become vice chairman of the Dumfries branch, and then onto his previous role of Regional Board Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the LFASS committee. Andrew was elected Vice President in February 2015.

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