Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime

A blog post by Inspector Alan Dron

Inspector Alan Dron
Police Scotland's Rural Crime Co-Ordinator

Posted 10/12/2019

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With Scotland frequently perceived as trying to lead the way for environmental creativity, innovation and knowledge, why are levels of flytipping higher now than 5 years ago? Why are they significantly worse in the 20% most deprived areas of Scotland? 

Ensuring those living and working in rural communities and environments have confidence that any crime related issues affecting them are taken seriously, acted upon and understood is a key priority for the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC).

The group was formed with a strategic vision of co-ordinating cohesive and sustained crime prevention advice to rural communities throughout Scotland plus drive and support intelligence gathering, enforcement activity underpinned through empowering communities regardless of demographics and geographical location.

In April 2019, SPARC launched the first ever strategy for tackling Rural Crime in Scotland.  This provides a clear vision, aims, objectives and priorities. Namely these are farm machinery, plant & vehicle theft; livestock offences; fuel theft; equestrian crime; poaching, heritage crime and, of particular relevance, flytipping! 

With a truly national remit SPARC consists of representatives from 16 organisations including Scottish Government, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, National Farmers Union Mutual, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland  + Rural Watch Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland, CONFOR, NFU (Scotland), Scottish Land & Estates, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, Food Standards Scotland, British Horse Society, Police Scotland, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Scottish Community Safety Network and Zero Waste Scotland.

Meeting every quarter, raising the profile, educating and changing perception of rural affairs plus enhancing public engagement are just some of the priorities that require focus over the coming years coupled with devising, developing and delivering effective strategies which invigorate tangible action.

In addition to providing a national overview on rural affairs, an ambition of SPARC is to establish new, whilst strengthening existing, local rural crime prevention groups within Local Authority and/or policing divisions across Scotland. Thus, issues raised locally can be understood, tackled and resolved locally.


Harnessing the contribution, expertise and passion of individuals, communities and partner organisations in the public, private and third sector to reduce vulnerabilities will take time.

However, collectively SPARC representatives stress the need for all those living and/or working in rural communities and environments to report any criminal activity as only by gaining an understanding of what is going on, will SPARC be able to drive a cohesive response designed to tackle sources rather than symptoms.

With Scotland hosting a major United Nations climate change summit in 2020 (26th Conference of the Parties known as COP26), this offers a unique catalyst for everyone who wants to improve the local environment in which they live, work or enjoy and do something positive. Only through working to a coordinated, effective and focused vision will a sustainable difference be achieved. With public interest and in particular the younger generation throughout Scotland so passionate about the environment, is it no longer aspirational but perhaps now a more genuine realisation that in 2020 we all can start to tackle, reverse then ensure as a country Scotland is renowned throughout the world as being truly beautiful.

For further information on the work of SPARC, please contact Police Scotland’s rural crime co-ordinator, Inspector Alan Dron who is located at the Scottish Crime Campus, Gartcosh: alan.dron@scotland.pnn.police.uk





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