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Perthshire MSP criticises police report for failing to mention sheep worrying incidents

Muthill sheep farmer Tom Paterson with a flock in a field in which some were attacked.
Muthill sheep farmer Tom Paterson with a flock in a field in which some were attacked.

A Perthshire MSP has criticised Police Scotland for failing to mention an increase in sheep worrying incidents in a report.

Liz Smith, one of the representatives for the Mid Scotland and Fife constituency, said police chiefs should have drawn attention to the crime which has seen an upsurge in Perth and Kinross, in their ‘Serving a Changing Scotland – Policing 2026’ document.

Last week, Ms Smith raised the issue of rural crime – particularly sheep worrying – with Fergus Ewing MSP at the Scottish Parliament. She said although the Rural Economy Minister indicated it was an issue the Scottish Government was taking seriously, this week’s policing document “indicates otherwise.”

“It was just last week when the Cabinet Secretary assured me that the Government was taking rural crime seriously yet this policing plan completely fails to mention emerging problems in our countryside areas, including livestock worrying,” she said.

“This document gives the impression that the SNP is only focused on its Central Belt heartlands and has completely forgotten about the needs of rural people.”

Ms Smith continued: “It is completely unacceptable for there to be not one mention of our rural communities and I would hope that Ministers in Edinburgh take time to set out their vision for combating countryside crime.”

Blairgowrie and Glens councillor Caroline Shiers has asked Perth and Kinross Council’s community safety committee to write to Scotland’s Justice Minister about the absence of rural crimes in the report.

“There’s absolutely no reference in this document to specific rural crime issues,” she said.

“I would imagine that that is a major concern for everyone on this committee.”

Councillor Douglas Pover said he would raise the issue with the Scottish Police Authority later this month and report back to Perth and Kinross Council.

Police Scotland stressed they have launched a campaign to combat incidents on sheep worrying, which was recently linked with criminals involved in hare coursing in Perth and Kinross.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham commented: “Local policing will remain at the heart of what we do, supported by a wide range of specialist capabilities.

“Policing 2026 is a strategic document which is not intended to be a detailed plan of how we will respond to all the different types of crime.

“It will allow us to create capacity by freeing up officers from office jobs and getting them out on the beat in our communities. We will also bring in new specialist staff to work in operational areas.

“They will protect the people of Scotland from the full range of threats that we know we are going to be facing over the next 10 years.”

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