SPARC launches three-year rural crime strategy

The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) has launched a new three-year ‘strategy’ to tackle this type of crime, and to “develop resilient rural communities”.

The overarching vision of the strategy, the group says, is that: “Regardless of geographical location, rural communities feel safe.”

The SPARC says its aim is “protecting rural communities with a focus on prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurances”.

The SPARC’s four objectives:

  • Develop resilient rural communities through effective partnerships, utilising holistic innovative and special techniques;
  • Listen, be visible and understand local and national concerns relating to rural crime;
  • Harness the contribution, expertise and knowledge of individuals, communities and relevant partner organisations in public, private and the third sector to reduce vulnerabilities;
  • Promote and improve rural community cohesion where people feel safer regardless of location.

“In order to achieve these objectives, we will strive to change perceptions; educate; and raise the profile of rural crime, plus enhance public engagement to convey confidence that any crime-related issues affecting them are taken seriously, acted upon and understood,” said the group.

The strategy document continues: “Scotland’s communities, particularly rural communities, can only flourish when people feel safe. Developing, maintaining and enhancing sustainable partnerships is key to achieving this.”

SPARC can and will reduce the fear of crime, and will build strong, resilient communities in which people can thrive and reach their potential.

SPARC points out that there is no national definition of what constitutes ‘rural crime’, so the group provides its own: “Any crime that occurs in a rural location, or affects any person living, working or visiting a rural location.”

The new strategy also divides rural crime into seven categories: poaching; livestock offences; heritage crime; fuel theft; fly tipping; equestrian incidents; and theft of agricultural vehicles, farm machinery and plant equipment.

John McKenzie, chief superintendent of Police Scotland and chair of the SPARC, said the group “recognises the need to tackle rural crime in all its forms, plus target any criminality, including those ‘Serious Organised Crime Groups’ who want to make money at the expense of hard working, law-abiding people, thus threatening the very fabric of rural communities”.