New partnership launched to help tackle rural crime in the Scottish Borders

A group of people stand in front of two exhitbition stands

Published: Monday, 13th September 2021

The Scottish Borders Partnership Against Rural Crime (SBPARC) has been launched as part of a Borders-wide commitment to tackling rural crime across the region

SBPARC is part of a national multi-agency initiative developed by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) involving key organisations collectively working together to tackle rural crime, in particular the increasing threat posed by serious organised crime groups throughout Scotland.

Locally, SBPARC brings together representatives from a range of organisations who have a vested interest in tackling crime that affects rural communities in the Borders. Alpong with ourselves, this includes:

  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • NFU Scotland
  • Scottish Land and Estates
  • SEPA
  • River Tweed Commission
  • Scottish SPCA

It is expected that other representatives will join as the partnership develops.

The overall aim is to work together to prevent and combat rural crime, utilising both the principles of SPARC’s Scottish Rural Crime Strategy 2019-22 and local analysis to guide activity.

Key priorities for the partnership

Some of the key priorities for SBPARC will be:

  • agricultural vehicle, farm machinery and plant theft
  • equestrian incidents
  • poaching
  • fly tipping
  • fuel theft
  • heritage crime (including visitor management)
  • livestock offences

Reporting of rural crime and suspicious activity will be actively encouraged, as will information sharing among partners to support targeted enforcement activity.

The Council-funded Police Community Action Team (CAT) will be actively engaged in the initiative through rural crime disruption, prevention and enforcement using quad bikes to access more isolated locations and challenging terrain. 

Raising awareness with local residents and landowners about the steps they can take to protect their property will also be important. Measures such as deterrent signage, lighting, security marking, CCTV, physical security measures and an alarm system are all ways that an owner can be alerted to an intruder. Taking note of a registration number or providing a description or photograph of suspicious activity may help to connect the incident to other criminal activity. 

How you can help target thieves and potential thieves in your area

Always contact Police Scotland immediately if you see suspicious activity on or near your property:

  • use 999 if ongoing (e.g. if persons are still on your property, are threatening or a crime is in progress)
  • otherwise call the 101 non-emergency number
  • you can also report it on the Police Scotland website

Or report anonymously through Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

Consider your personal safety, do not put yourself at risk by confronting intruders.

What information do we need?

Any information you can provide may help us create the connection to criminal activity including:

  • registration number or partial registration number
  • photograph or description of a suspicious vehicle (colour, make, model, any signage)
  • if the vehicle has left, what direction was it going?
  • how many people were in the vehicle and any descriptions?
  • if they spoke to you what did they give as a reason for being on your property?

Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher, Local Area Commander with Police Scotland

“The economic loss caused by theft or damage can have significant consequences for individuals and businesses. Using information passed from the community enables us to develop the intelligence picture and focus our enforcement activity.

“We already know that cross border criminality occurs and often recces are undertaken before a crime occurs. Information on unannounced visits to farms or other isolated locations are of particular interest in the case of quad bike or machinery theft. There may be suspicious activity around fields and woodland associated with poaching or livestock theft.

“The more alert residents can be to what is going around them and do what they can to protect themselves and also let us know when they witness something of concern, the more we can do to support them. The establishment of the partnership is a significant step in that fight and Police Scotland is fully committed to what SBPARC is aiming to achieve.”

Councillor George Turnbull, Executive Member for Public Protection

“With such a large geographic area and network of roads we need to work together in tackling this form of criminality which can also include fly tipping, the worrying of livestock and inconsiderate access to land. I welcome the launch of SBPARC and am confident it can greatly assist with efforts to tackle rural crime head-on in the Borders.”

More information

  • images from the launch event that took place on 10 September at the Border Union Agricultural Society showground in Kelso are available on our Flickr page
  • the Rural Crime Strategy for 2019-22 can be downloaded from the Scottish Rural Network website