SPARC releases its Rural Crime Strategy 2019-2022

(SPARC) - the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime is a multi-agency partnership that includes Police Scotland, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Scottish Government, NFU Mutual, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Confor, the Scottish Community Safety Network and Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, amongst others.

Whilst SPARC have been collectively tackling rural crime for over five years their recently released Rural Crime Strategy 2019 – 2022 supports and will continue to support their efforts to tackle this issue throughout Scotland.

Effective crime prevention requires effective community engagement. To assist the SPARC partners deliver on their strategic priorities Rural Watch Scotland was established in December 2016. ‘Rural Watch Scotland’ is an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch concept. Designed specifically for the rural communities of Scotland it aims to bring all the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch to rural communities irrespective of location, size or demographics. Rural Watch Scotland was formally launched at the Royal Highland Show in June 2017.


The objectives of Rural Watch Scotland are to:

  • Reduce crime and the fear of crime by providing the right information, to the right people, at the right time
  • Encourage people to think about safety and security for themselves, their neighbours and their community
  • Improve community cohesion and well-being
  • Work in partnership with national and local service providers to develop more resilient communities that are better prepared against threats, intentional or unintentional, such as crime or extreme weather

In meeting these objectives effective communication between partners and consistent engagement with rural communities is vital. Neighbourhood ALERT, a targeted, two way messaging system specifically designed in the UK for the purposes of community engagement will play a central role in providing consistent, locally relevant and inclusive communication with people living and working within a rural setting. The last six months has seen the establishment of a local Neighbourhood ALERT administrator network across all areas of Police Scotland.

Rural Watch Scotland encourages people to sign up to receive alerts and advice by email, text or voicemail from local police officers and other approved information providers. Keeping communities informed about crime and other threats in their areas can help prevent crime, keep communities and residents safe, and the response to these alerts can help catch criminals or allow communities to better prepare to deal with local issues.

To sign up to receive local ALERTS users simply click the green JOIN button on the Rural Watch portal – – just the same as for Neighbourhood Watch. 

Experience provides that people who sign up to Rural Watch Scotland and thereafter apply the advice they receive will be less likely to be a victim of crime and be better prepared for other potential harm.

Signing up for local ALERTS does not require anyone to join or start up a formal Rural Watch scheme, however the benefits of joining or establishing such a local community group are always available.

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland are in the process of developing a new area of their main website for rural specific issues.