Looking out for each other in Argyll

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A scheme to help fight rural crime is paying dividends in Cowal – and could soon be replicated in Mid Argyll.

Village police stations are being closed as centralisation continues apace. Recognising the danger of losing touch with rural communities, officers in Cowal decided to promote the Rural Watch scheme.

Dunoon-based police officers attended Cairndow Community Council on March 13 to explain Rural Watch and outline the benefits.

Acting sergeant Donald McKay is Rural Watch co-ordinator for Argyll and West Dunbartonshire and he told the community council: ‘Rural Watch is an online platform. Its success is down to getting as many people involved as possible and widespread coverage.’

‘The police can then keep in touch with members with messages and targeted alerts.’

He cited two recent examples where Rural Watch has paid dividends. The first involved a metal theft from a property near Dunoon.

Sergeant MacKay explained: ‘The message went out to Rural Watch members within 15 minutes, giving plenty of time to get eyes and ears deployed.’

The suspects were apprehended by police before they had the chance to leave the Cowal peninsula.

On another occasion, a fly tipper who dumped rubbish in a remote glen was caught, based on information obtained through Rural Watch.

The scheme was set up in 2013 as an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch Scotland movement. Its purpose is to reduce crime and the fear of crime by providing the right information, to the right people, at the right time while encouraging people to think about safety and security for themselves and  their neighbours and to work in partnership to develop more resilient communities.

By joining the scheme you can receive alerts and advice by phone, text or email.

Rural Watch is already active in Mid Argyll, but police officers are keen to expand its membership.

Mid Argyll has a number of police officers dealing with Rural Watch across the region, one of whom is PC Ben Rusden, who said: ‘There is further work to be done and any help and support would be appreciated.’

To join Rural Watch Scotland, visit www.ruralwatchscotland.co.uk and sign in from there.