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COVID Pandemic Contributes to Decrease in Rural Crime

LISTEN: Ian Donaldson warns that this year’s dip shouldn’t encourage complacency

The cost of rural crime in Scotland has decreased by 25% over the last year however leading rural insurer, NFU Mutual, says this is partly down to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns and that farmers and rural communities should not ‘become complacent’.

In its Rural Crime Report, NFU Mutual revealed that rural theft cost the UK an estimated £43.4million in 2020 making it the lowest annual cost recorded in five years.

Sales Development Manager at NFU Mutual, Ian Donaldson, said:

“The report that we’ve released has shown that rural crime costs have actually fallen over the last year.

“Across the UK it’s fallen by 20% overall but in Scotland we’ve actually had a 25% reduction in the cost of rural crime.

“This is obviously fantastic news that it has reduce but we have got to bear in mind that we were in the midst of a pandemic and various lockdowns which has kept criminals out of the countryside and it has been harder to commit crimes going unnoticed.

“We can’t become complacent.

The report also highlights a continued ‘plague’ on farmyards in the form of criminal gangs who target valuable items such as GPS, quad bikes and trackers. Agricultural vehicle theft reported to NFU Mutual this year remains over £9 million.

The pandemic also furthered exacerbated issues such as dog attacks on livestock and fly tipping due to lack of access to recycling centres.

Mr Donaldson added:

“The upward trend over the last five years has showed us that is an increasing problem and an increasing concern and we can’t become complacent with this and we need to keep focussing on it to drive the numbers down

NFU Mutual has increased their financial support nationally to £430,000 and pledged continued work with organisations such as Police Scotland and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARCS) to decrease rural crime.

Ian Donaldson added:

“We have actually increased our spending to over £430,000 this year. That actually goes to a number of national, regional and local resources.

“For example, we’ve got a national vehicle crime intelligence service which we help to fund. We’re working with Police to see stolen machinery and providing funding to newly established agricultural and construction equipment Police units.

“However, more locally we’re working with Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime and that covers the whole of Scotland and will benefit Highland Perthshire as well.

“We are providing the funding, we’re providing the knowledge to help drive that down in the local communities in Scotland.”

To view the NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report in full, please visit: https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/farming/ruralcrime/

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