A Partnership Against Rural Crime (PARC) is being established within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTNP) and I was invited by the BHS to represent equestrian interests at the first meetings.
An initial meeting with representatives of key organisations including the National Park Authority (NPA), Police Scotland, FLS, SLE and Rural Watch was held to start the process and the issues concerned were discussed. These are broad ranging and include activities that can affect everybody such as theft of vehicles, equipment, farm machinery; general theft, antisocial behaviour and illegal parking causing access difficulties.
I raised a number of concerns that are specifically related to equestrian activities. Police Scotland confirmed that although there have been attacks on horses and ponies in other parts of Scotland, there have been no reports of such events within the Park, although that does not make them complacent about the risk.
Police Scotland and the NPA recognised that riders who must use public roads are often put at risk by drivers passing too close to a horse, driving too fast or through road rage. [Throughout the UK between 2010 and 2019 road accidents involving equestrians have killed at least 43 people and injured 1085. 315 horses have been killed with 945 injured in a total of 3737 incidents on the road and these are only the incidents known the BHS] To combat this in the Park, a number of events supporting the “Lose the Blinkers” campaign, which has mounted officers in plain clothes out on the roads to educate drivers not behaving properly and prosecutes the worst offenders, are being scheduled for 2021. The Police support the legitimate presence of horses on roads as the majority of drivers do slow down when they see horses and, particularly on rural roads, reduce the average speed of vehicles.
To better understand and represent things that concern equestrians who live in the LLTNP I would be grateful for any and all comments that people wish to raise, whether they are equestrian specific or of a more general nature. Where crimes have been actually committed, please also report these through the normal channels so that as complete as possible a Police database can be maintained to ensure that resource is aimed in the correct direction.
For more information contact Don Milton