Charity urges Scottish residents to speak up about those harming the countryside

The charity Crimestoppers – in partnership with Network Rail – has launched a new campaign encouraging people to speak up about anyone causing harm and damage to Scotland’s countryside and communities.

The initiative comes as the international tourist season returns following years of pandemic restriction which means a greater increase of people visiting smaller towns, like Paisley, as well as Scotland’s larger cities.

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

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Angela Parker, National Manager for Crimestoppers Scotland, said: “Many of us will be enjoying the stunning scenery, events and activities Scotland has to offer.

“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.”

Some of the key crimes that take place in Scotland and smaller communities include: house breaking, livestock crimes, specifically theft and dog attacks, and now with the increase of fuel prices, many areas have now seen a rise in fuel theft which can be deemed commercial or domestic.

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. Over 95 per cent of Scotland is classed as rural and NFU Mutual estimate that rural crime costs Scotland around £1.8 million annually, with levels reportedly increasing.

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 100 per cent anonymously.

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, from 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.”

Postcards and posters will be shared across Scotland, coupled with a social media campaign highlighting the key crimes affecting rural areas.

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Daily Record – Paisley