Latest Midlothian rural crime initiative set to launch

The Midlothian Rural Crime Initiative will begin on Saturday, to coincide with the spring lambing period, which is one of the occasions when sheep are at greatest risk.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 6:00 am
Penicuik Community Officers, Constables Keith Dolan and Julie Hand (on quad), with SPARCI the sheep.
Penicuik Community Officers, Constables Keith Dolan and Julie Hand (on quad), with SPARCI the sheep.

Livestock attacks and worrying, poaching, acquisitive crime, fly tipping and rural anti-social behaviour are all issues affecting our countryside and will feature in the campaign.

The aim is on prevention by providing education to the public and those use who use our countryside, along with tracing those responsible and carrying out enforcement where appropriate to reduce crime and provide reassurance to our local communities.

Sergeant Michele Lindsay of Penicuik Police Station highlighted the main reasons for the initiative.

Midlothian Rural Crime Initiative launch.

She said: “If you are out walking a dog, remember that you can meet livestock anywhere in the countryside.

"Don't be complacent with routes you have previously travelled, it is important to remember livestock are moved around.

“During the last year as well as reports of hare coursing and fly tipping, we have seen an increase in reports of livestock attacks and worrying, particularly in the Pentland Hills and Penicuik Estate areas.

"This has led, on occasion, to sheep being stressed, injured or killed as a result.

“Although such incidents are being reported to us, there are still a number of incidents that go unreported, and we would continue to encourage farmers and members of the public to come forward when they occur, or when there are any ‘near misses’.

“We encourage farmers to engage with dog walkers if they have any concerns about behaviour, and put signage up on the relevant gates, paths and entrances to warn walkers of the presence of livestock.

"I would also urge farmers, dog walkers and members of the public to talk to us for any advice on this issue, as officers will be carrying out rural patrols between March and the beginning of May.

“Please be assured that any incidents of livestock attacks will be robustly dealt with, and offenders could face charges, and be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

"During the campaign, police will be working with key partners and engaging with and offering security advice to members of the public and rural community."

Police Scotland are one of the partners involved in the Midlothian Partnership against Rural Crime (MPARC), along with Midlothian Council, Scottish Land and Estates, National Farmers Union, Scotland (NFUS), Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Natural Heritage Officers from Pentland Hills Regional Park, Scottish Water, Network Rail and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and other agencies.

Since the launch of the Partnership at the end of 2019 we as a group have been working hard to tackle issues highlighted by members of the public, farmers and landowners, whilst following the aims, objectives and priorities set out by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC). These include:

· livestock attacks and worrying,

· poaching,

· fly tipping,

· theft of agricultural vehicles, farm machinery, plants and fuel,

· dog control,

· farm and vehicle safety, and

· rural and anti-social behaviour