Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th June 2019.

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Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the work of the Scottish partnership against rural crime. (S5O-03343)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

The Scottish partnership against rural crime continues to play a valuable role in bringing together key partners from across the rural and justice sectors to tackle all forms of criminality in our rural communities. The partnership recently produced its “Rural Crime Strategy 2019-2022”, which highlights its focus on tackling serious and organised crime as it affects rural communities.

Work is also under way to strengthen local approaches to tackling rural crime across Scotland. Earlier this year, the cabinet secretary participated in the launch of the new East Lothian partnership against rural crime, which is led by East Lothian Council. A similar initiative is about to begin in Tayside, which will bring together local authorities, the police and other partners to strengthen the local approach to rural crime. In April, my ministerial colleague the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs participated in the launch of a new Scottish heritage crime group, which has been formed under the auspices of SPARC, to tackle crime against our historic and cultural sites.

Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

I thank the minister for that comprehensive answer. She will be aware that the rural economy is negatively impacted by rural crimes, which include not only livestock worrying and theft, but fly tipping, which has a hugely detrimental impact on local authorities, farmers and landowners, who have to bear the costs of clearing up such sites. In order to address that worrying and escalating problem, will the minister support my campaign, which calls for local authorities, agencies and occupiers and owners of land to be given the same powers as their counterparts in England and Wales to make compensation orders, so that they can recover the costs incurred for clearing those sites?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

I am really glad that Margaret Mitchell has raised fly tipping, because it is a serious issue in rural areas that blights our countryside. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform portfolio has portfolio responsibility for the issue, and I know that she would be happy to consider the member’s proposals further. We need to take a look at this very serious issue, and if there are other powers to help tackle the matter, we need to consider them.