SHEEP and cattle in Renfrewshire can rest a little easier after the launch of a new crackdown on rural crime.

A host of organisations turned out at an education and awareness session event in Renfrewshire.

Gryffe Wraes Farm, on the outskirts of Bridge of Weir and Houston, played host to representatives from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Renfrewshire Wardens Service, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and others as they offered advice on how to keep property and livestock safe.

The Gazette:

It comes amid fresh warnings from Police Scotland that criminal gangs are repeatedly targeting rural communities.

Willie Harper, NFU Scotland regional chair for Forth and Clyde, told The Gazette: “Theft is the biggest problem the farming community faces.

“This can be anything from lawnmowers to tractors, which are then transported out of the country.

“Livestock worrying is also a huge problem for farmers and I have personal experience of having lost animals because of it.”

Mr Harper, who runs Gryffe Wraes Farm with his wife Mairi, believes opportunistic thieves see farmers as an easy target.

He added: “People will chuck plastic bottles or leave poo bags hanging around but these can all prove fatal. Animals are inquisitive and will try something if they find it.

“A lot of farmers are on their own so, often, will be exploited by people.

“Fly-tipping is also a problem and, as soon as it is on a farmer’s land, it is their responsibility to pay for it to be removed.”

The Gazette:

The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) group, which is made up of 16 agencies, including Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and NFU Mutual, was present as they revealed some of the technology available to them to track down criminals.

This includes CCTV and vehicle tracking as cops work to protect rural communities against theft and vandalism.

Inspector Cassie Glass, who chairs the Renfrewshire Rural Tasking Group, hopes the event will make people more aware of how they can protect themselves.

She added: “It is so important to reach out to the rural community.” 

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