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Remaining vigilant against crime in rural Aberdeenshire

By David Porter

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Formartine sergeant Richard Barnwell has given the latest round-up of police activity in his report for the area during April.

Sergeant Richard Barnwell.
Sergeant Richard Barnwell.

During this period there have been two recorded minor assaults, both occurring in the Turriff area.

The first was contained within a domestic relationship and the other had a racial element and occurred outside a local store.

Both offences have been detected with the offenders being reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

This month has seen five reports of acquisitive type crime.

He said: "We have had one report of theft by shoplifting from a store in Turriff with the offenders having already been charged, while another relates to a theft from a cash machine in Turriff, through the fraudulent use of the victim’s bank card.

"There has been a report of theft of a wildlife camera from a rural location in Fyvie and we have also received a report of an attempted theft by housebreaking in the Rothienorman area whereby damage was discovered a door of a private dwelling.

"Finally, one report relates to the theft of various farming equipment from a rural property in the Methlick area.

"Investigations continue in relation to these offences."

Formartine officers supported by Roads Policing units continue to target anti-social driving within Turriff and the surrounding towns.

He said: "During this month of lockdown, the usual problems associated with Turriff High Street, Tesco Car Park and Turriff Primary School do not appear to be quite so prevalent.

"However we are receiving reports that this problem has moved to more rural locations.

"Officers from the Formartine Community Policing Team are dedicated to improving road safety in our area and will combat this issue wherever it is found.

"There have been two recorded road traffic offences during this period and both relate to drivers failing to stop following collisions, both occurring within Turriff.

"One offender has been traced and charged with the other report remains under investigation."

April has seen the conclusion of the yearlong Operation Illustrious, whereby local officers were engaged in speed patrols all across Formartine with a view to improving road safety across the area. This operation will now undergo a review, with the hope to implement a revised version in the near future.

Controlled drugs and their use/sale remains an issue across all local policing areas in the north-east however, with the support of the community and regular reporting on drug dealing and drug use, Officers from the Formartine Local Policing Team will continue to proactively tackle those involved in this type of crime.

Any information available from members of the public is invaluable and can be passed to Police.

This month, local officers have stopped and searched a number of individuals.

As a result three persons have been charged with being in possession of controls substances, these have all been within the Turriff and District area.

He explained: "It is becoming apparent that these individuals are meeting in secluded, rural locations as a means to avoid detection during lockdown.

"I therefore urge anyone living in rural areas who see suspicious vehicles or persons gathering in car parks or beauty spots to contact us and report them, providing as much detail as possible.

Operation CEDAR continues to target driver behaviour with a focus on education of poor behaviours.

This core operation forms a key part of our local anti-social behaviour / driving campaigns, Operation ABACABLUE and Operation ILLUSTRIOUS.

As previously stated Operation ILLUSTRIOUS has now come to the end of its 12 month run and as such we will be conducting a review of the Operation with the potential to implement a revised version of it for the coming year.

Any feedback you may have in relation to our dedicated speed patrols would be most welcome and would assist us with the review process.

North East Scotland Rural Crime and Safety Partnership has been set up to specifically target matters affecting rural areas, including road safety, acquisitive crime, agricultural safety, live-stock worrying and hare-coursing.

In addition to this and after recent consultation with the national Neighbourhood Watch and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), the Formartine Community Policing Team is keen to encourage local residents to sign up and use “Rural Watch Scotland”.

You can register online by visiting: https://member-registration.neighbourhoodalert.co.uk/173/Join

This month has seen significant impact on the provision of frontline services with the devastating global spread of the Covid-19 virus (coronavirus).

In a very short period of time, this virus has completely changed the way we live our lives, with the UK Government issuing public safety instructions in the form of a UK wide lockdown.

Police Scotland have been provided new powers to enable us to enforce this lockdown when necessary.

Further information and details can be found here: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/

He said: "I am pleased to report that the vast majority of people are continuing to abide by the lockdown instructions, but there continues to be those who willingly put themselves and others at needless risk by flaunting the rules.

"I will try and provide some clarity on various re-occurring issues that we are encountering."

Confusion of regulations:

Whilst engaging and educating people found breaching lockdown regulations this month, it has become apparent that there is some confusion in what is acceptable and what isn’t.

It is thought that this confusion may have come from media outlets reporting on changes in policy and approach from England.

As means of clarity the position of the Scottish Government and that of the Police Service of Scotland has not changed.

People should only be leaving their homes for the following essential purposes;

• Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible

• One form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household;

• Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and

• Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.

You should not be meeting up with friends or even family members from other households in order to exercise.

Any exercise should commence and conclude at your home address, there is no provision for anyone to drive to a location in order to exercise.

The point is to reduce social contact not increase it.

You should not linger outside supermarkets in order to speak with friends or acquaintances, this would be classed as a non-essential gathering, and increases the likelihood of spreading the virus.

Information regarding your rights and responsibilities in relation to outdoor access can be found here;


This month in Ward 7 (Turriff), three individuals were issued fines for breaching COVID legislation.

Having previously been educated by local officers in relation to the need to stay at home, these individuals were found to have willingly gathered together again in breach of lockdown.

Wildlife crime was also a continuing concern: "Again this month across the whole of North East Division we have seen a further suspected wildlife crime, with reports of hare coursing, deer and fish poaching all being reported.

"It appears as though dishonest individuals and groups are trying to take advantage of the current lockdown situation.

"I would therefore urge anyone with any information relating to wildlife crime to get in touch and report any suspicious persons or vehicles seen in rural areas to the Police".

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