Police Scotland is to host a public meeting in Menmuir Hall next month as part of a drive to combat rural crime.
Hosted by Special Constable Ricky Martin, the meeting is aimed at farmers and members of the rural community in the Brechin area.
The meeting takes place from 7pm at Menmuir Hall on Thursday, December 8. Special Constable Martin will be providing advice and information on a variety of issues - including hare coursing.
Warnings about hare coursing are given annually in the area by Police Scotland, with the matter often highlighted at community council meetings.
Hare coursing occurs all year round however peaks of activity tend to be from August after the harvest through to April when the spring crops start to grow. Stubble fields are popular for this pastime. Historically weekends and evenings have been the times of day when coursing is likely to take place.
Police Scotland advise that people involved in this activity will use lurchers, greyhounds and whippet dogs which hunt by sight and are normally walked across fields on slip leads and are released when any hares run off. It has been known for multiple dogs to chase one hare and money to change hands dependant on which dog kills the animal.
Other areas also covered in the meeting will include property marking, property security, fuel security, animal security and machine security will also be up for discussion on the night.
Special Constable Martin said: “I have been visiting a number of farms in the Brechin area to highlight the event and I have had a lot of interest from farmers and their families.
“It is an opportunity for farmers and those living and working in our rural community to raise and discuss issues that are important to them.
“I would encourage all to come along to Menmuir Hall on Thursday, December 8. The meeting will start at 7pm and I will be talking about the preventative measures people can put in place to secure property. I will be happy to listen and advise on any concerns they wish to discuss.”
Rural crime prevention is one of the four priorities for the Brechin and Edzell area. In their 2016 multi member ward plan for the patch, Police Scotland highlighted a new scheme - Farmwatch - to help tackle rural crime.
The plan explained: “Farmwatch scheme has been run among the rural farming and business community whereby a dedicated special constable, supported by community officers, has offered crime prevention advice and the use of a Smartwater facility to enable the secure and unique marking of vulnerable property. Rural police surgeries have been using the rural mobile library vehicle and community officers have utilised media and community councils to provide prevention advice.”
The plan also highlighted the way forward for tackling the issue, adding: “We will continue to work closely with the rural community, focussing resources to reduce the number of rural crimes by targeting the most prolific offenders, carrying out high visibility patrols and providing crime prevention advice.
‘‘We will continue to support the Farmwatch scheme and there are plans to train further community officers in the use of forensic marking techniques.”
Steps to tackle rural crime has also seen a partnership forged between Police Scotland and NFU Scotland. The NFU Scotland welcomed any efforts to make farmers and rural communities aware of the dangers of rural crime.
Gemma Cooper, NFU Scotland policy manager, said: “Crime remains a blight on the rural community and farms across the country continue to remain at risk of theft and damage. Any efforts to make farmers, crofters and those in the rural community aware of these dangers, and efforts they can take to protect their property, are welcomed.
“The Union has been stepping up its work with partner agencies such as Police Scotland, to seek tougher penalties for those found guilty of committing crimes in the rural community. This has tied in with various rural crime and safety days we have held throughout Scotland over the last 18 months, identifying simple ways that farmers can secure and protect their property.
“As the threat from those intent on theft from rural properties grows, it is increasingly important that farmers and rural dwellers pull together, join their local Rural Watch and get to know when and where there are risks to their business and what they can do to combat them.”