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Appeal is launched as rural communities in Scotland terrorised by violent gangs

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Crimestoppers is launching an appeal to people in rural communities to come forward with information regarding violent gang activity that is spoiling Scottish countryside and terrorising locals.

The appeal comes after a report by the NFU Mutual found that there has been an increase in violent crime and gang-related incidents in rural areas during the pandemic.

With Scotland moving to the lowest level of restrictions it means that people are able to move more freely and could cause a rise in rural crime.

Lockdown and restrictions caused rural theft to fall by 25% and with more freedom comes more challenges for rural communities and individuals.

This is perhaps due to the increase in people travelling to rural areas away from the watchful eye of local authorities that are more prevalent in cities.

Rural residents often feel unsafe in their own homes due to criminal gangs while farm owners have to foot the bill for criminal damage on their land. Local businesses in rural areas can also see their income and cashflow adversely affected.

Crimes committed in rural areas are repetitive and organised and without information it can’t be tackled.

The appeal is being launched so visitors to Scotland’s renowned countryside can help by being the eyes and ears of these more isolated communities and report anonymously what they see.

‘The impact of rural crime on victims’ lives and livelihood can be enormous’

In the year to April 2021, Crimestoppers nationally received nearly 2,700 anonymous reports about rural crime across the UK. Whilst this has been an increase of 14%, figures suggest that most people are not reporting crime at all.

From its latest claims’ statistics issued this week, NFU Mutual estimates that rural theft cost Scotland £1.7m.

Angela Parker, national manager for Scotland at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Our charity knows how damaging crime in the countryside can be: to local communities, to rural businesses, to farmers, wildlife and the environment.

“Every day we hear from people who are in the know about those involved in damaging our beautiful countryside across Scotland, but there is so much more we can do.

“By telling us anonymously what you know, whether you live or are visiting rural areas, your information can help make all the difference.”

The campaign is to alert people to the dangers on rural crime and to report it if they see it happening.

John Hayward-Cripps, chief executive of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said: “With headlines often focused on crime in the cities, it is easy to forget rural crime, but rural crime is increasing and is a serious issue.

“From hare coursing to machinery theft, the impact of rural crime on victims’ lives and livelihood can be enormous, with victims often left with long-term anxiety.”

To report rural crime 100% anonymously, visit the charity’s website Crimestoppers-uk.org and fill in a simple and secure anonymous online form or call their 24/7 UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111.

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