Positive Meeting with Crown Office on Agricultural and Rural Crime

Union welcomes COPFS commitment to tackle sheep worrying and rural crime

NFU Scotland met with the Solicitor General for Scotland Lesley Thomson QC this week to discuss rural crime and how to progress the planned review of prosecution policy.

In response to evidence provided to the Justice Committee in February by NFU Scotland, the Solicitor General announced a review of prosecution policy relating to agricultural crime.

Sheep worrying has played a large part in NFU Scotland’s push for a change following the incident earlier this year when a member lost 100 of his sheep, with £20,000 of damage caused.  Despite being convicted, the offender receiving only a £400 fine and no compensation order from the courts.

President Allan Bowie and Legal and Technical Policy Manager Gemma Thomson met with Solicitor General Lesley Thomson, Catriona Dalrymple, Head of Policy Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), and Paul Miele, Procurator Fiscal Depute, at the Crown Office in Edinburgh to discuss this, and how to progress the issues raised by NFUS members, and from the evidence session.

During the meeting concerns were shared that there is a rise in rural crime in the rural community. NFU Scotland emphasised the full impact of agricultural crime needs to be considered by prosecutors, ensuring information and the impact on the victim and the business is presented as a matter of course to the court.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie commented: “Agricultural crime in rural areas is on the increase, some of it by opportunist thieves, but there are links to organised crime.  

 “The system needs to reflect the full damage and impact caused and then put forward in court cases in order for fines and compensation orders to reflect these concerns.

“During this meeting we put forward correspondence from our members in response to an appeal from the Union for cases. I was really pleased with this response in such a short space of time, and it helped us in our discussions with the Solicitor General.

“NFU Scotland looks forward to playing an active role in the review process with a view to implementing necessary amendments needed to tackle agricultural and rural crime.”

The Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson QC, said:

“We recognise the devastating impact that agricultural crime can have on the farming community in Scotland.

“We look forward to working with NFU Scotland and other interested parties as part of the review group to look at the extent of agricultural crime, and will continue to ensure all powers are used to ensure that we tackle it as effectively as possible.”

Notes to Editors

  • A photograph from the meeting of NFUS President Allan Bowie and Solicitor General for Scotland Lesley Thomson QC is available on request by emailing or calling 0131 472 4108.
  • For any media inquiries in relation to the COPFS, please contact Iain Campbell on 0844 561 3984.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 72/15

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