Defining what is Rural and Rural Crime

Rural Scotland is defined by the Scottish Government on settlement size.


The National Records of Scotland defines it as namely a population of less than 3,000. This is further split into accessible rural – those with less than a 30 minutes’ drive to the nearest settlement with a population of 10,000 or more – and remote rural – those with a greater than 30 minute drive to the nearest settlement with a population of 10,000 or more. Exceptions will always exist and it is important any village or smaller town communities, often surrounded by farmland and open space, are perceived as being rural despite their close proximity to Scotland’s larger cities and towns.

In the absence of a nationally agreed definition, for the purposes of the Rural Crime Strategy 2019 – 2022 and following consultation with key and relevant partners, SPARC members have collectively defined rural crime for Scotland as:

any crime that occurs in a rural location or affects any person living, working or visiting a rural location

Building on work previously undertaken coupled with recent consultation involving partners, SPARC has set the following priorities:

  • Due to the amount of energy, focus and understanding required to successfully tackle each priority, whilst collectively supported by all SPARC members, organisations have been identified to take ownership for a priority most relevant to them.
  • In addition, due to the level of expertise and knowledge required coupled with national importance surrounding cultural and heritage assets, a sub group, the Scottish Heritage Crime Group (SHCG) has been formed with the remit of developing a strategy around protecting these plus reducing the damage and financial impact on them throughout Scotland.