NE Walk & Talk an eye-opener to the extent of rural crime

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Grandhome Estate, on the fringes of Aberdeen, was the perfect setting for our NE Rural Security Walk & Talk on 11 July. While the estate has benefitted from the growth of Aberdeen with opportunities in residential and commercial property, the proximity of the city has its pitfalls, with frequent incidents of fly-tipping, as well as criminal and antisocial behaviour including theft and vandalism.

The scene was set… Landowners, managers, professional members and local stakeholders turned out in force for practical advice and discussion with the experts from Police Scotland’s National Rural Crime team and Designing Out Crime. Participants had their eyes opened to the threat of rural crime when Inspector Alan Dron outlined current trends in the North East and specifically the activity of serious organised crime groups. Stuart Ward, National Designing Out Crime Manager then went on highlight some of the challenges in the physical and built environment and what practical steps can be taken by members to reduce the risk of crime.

Members came prepared with their own experiences, with the experts fielding questions on topics as diverse as the GDPR implications related to the use of CCTV and the challenges presented by fly-tipping. As a key member of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), SLE is acutely aware of the value and importance of collaborating with partners so we delighted to have contributions from the River Don’s Senior Fisheries Officer, Jim Kerr, and Tom Parnell of Historic Environment Scotland.

The weather stayed dry for a walk to the nearby farm steading where Willie Johnstone of the National Rural Crime team facilitated one group discussion and demonstration of technologies that can be used to protect agricultural machinery and other farm assets. Stuart Ward used the steading and surrounding access roads to highlight the opportunities for crime; the group looked at simple deterrents ranging from signage, lighting and physical barriers to discussing CCTV technologies.

Above all, the Walk & Talk was an eye-opener for participants who perhaps weren’t aware of the extent of serious organised crime moving into the rural areas of Scotland. Hopefully the event served as a catalyst for our members to cast a more critical eye over the possible risk of crime in the rural communities where they live and work; and practical steps that can be taken.