Stirling MP Alyn Smith and MSP Bruce Crawford have called for renewed action on rural crime, amidst concerns criminals may take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
A newly published report by the National Farmers Union Mutual insurance firm notes that rural crime cost Scotland approximately £2.3 million in 2019 alone. Livestock and equipment theft, alongside fly tipping and dog attacks on farm animals remain stubborn issues in rural areas nationally, including Stirling.
Stirling has seen an increase in visitors to rural locations during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as millions of Scots have opted for a ‘staycation’ amidst continuing international travel restrictions.
Whilst the vast majority of visits have respected the environment and local residents, a stubborn minority have flouted rules designed to keep animals, nature and communities safe.
Bruce Crawford MSP said:
‘Rural communities and businesses are a crucial part of Stirling’s local economy. The coronavirus pandemic has presented unique pressures for these areas, no less from the increased visitor numbers we’ve seen to popular natural sites.
‘I look forward to working with colleagues within Stirling Council, Police Scotland and other public agencies to ensure our rural communities remain safe and well during the COVID-19 health crisis, and rural crimes are tackled in a joint manner.’
Alyn Smith MP said:
‘Today’s report is sober reading, and echoes what Bruce and I have heard from our conversations with rural communities and businesses. Rural crime is real, and COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the ongoing challenges such communities can face.
‘I’ll be liaising with local residents and colleagues in other public agencies to ensure farmers, businesses and rural communities can work effectively to tackle rural crime and prevent its growth, especially as the economic impact of coronavirus begins to unfold.’