In response to a rise in organised agricultural crime across Scotland, law enforcement authorities have stepped-up their efforts to tackle these offences – in particular the key crime of rural theft. Police personnel are increasingly using technology to detect suspects, while the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have shown their commitment to using extensive powers to recover money and assets when prosecuting.
If you have been arrested or charged with a rural crime involving organised criminality, it is vital that you have an experienced criminal defence solicitor by your side. Your legal team will ensure your rights are protected and that the police and prosecuting authority do not act beyond their powers during investigations and court proceedings. As your solicitor, we will mount a strong and strategic defence to the charges against you and be persistent in achieving the best possible result for you.
It is important to seek specialist legal advice without delay; the sooner you do, the better the outcome is likely to be. With over 30 years’ experience defending individuals in serious, high-value and complex cases, we can help you. Contact Keith J Tuck today.
It was recently reported that serious organised crime groups are increasingly “targeting and influencing rural crime” in Scotland, and this has resulted in a sharp rise in the cost of these offences. Rural theft is largely responsible for this spike, with high-value items, such as farm vehicles, machinery, fuel and livestock, being targeted. It is believed criminal groups are using drones to scope out rural properties and opportunities for theft. Further, there is evidence that the number of incidents has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
How have the police and COPFS responded?
Agricultural crime is now a higher priority for law enforcement agencies in Scotland due to a recognition of the increasing involvement of organised crime groups and the far-reaching impact these incidents can have on individuals, businesses and communities. Accordingly, specific measures have been taken to improve the response to rural crime.
The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) was established in 2019 to address some of the challenges of detecting offences committed in remote areas. It combines the efforts of COPFS and Police Scotland along with several other relevant organisations, including the National Farmers Union. By working collaboratively, SPARC aims to enhance intelligence gathering and enforcement capabilities concerning rural crimes.
One of Police Scotland’s responsibilities under the SPARC strategy is to reduce farm machinery theft. Consequently, officers have begun using advanced drone technology to detect and disrupt criminal groups on Scotland’s rural road networks and to locate stolen vehicles and other property.
Meanwhile, in 2015, COPFS updated its agricultural crime policy to specify that all cases involving organised crime will be assigned to specialist prosecutors within the Proceeds of Crime Unit. The Unit will make use of extensive authority under the Proceeds of Crime legislation to recover illegally obtained money and assets.
What does this mean for those arrested or charged with serious rural crime?
With this increased focus on tackling agricultural crime, more individuals will likely come under investigation for alleged illegal conduct and be prosecuted. If a conviction follows, sentencing could also be tougher.
If you are arrested or charged with a rural offence as part of a serious organised crime group, the police and COPFS will use their far-reaching powers during the investigation process and any subsequent prosecution. This could mean that any benefit (assets and money) you are believed to have gained from criminal conduct can be frozen while proceedings are ongoing, and could ultimately be the subject of a confiscation order if you are convicted. Further, if you are convicted of a criminal lifestyle offence – where you are deemed to have benefitted from illegal conduct over an extended period – the court can assume that any benefit you received in the previous six years has been obtained illegally and, therefore, can be recovered.
These powerful enforcement tools can be daunting for those facing allegations of organised crime. If they are used with full force, they can have a significant impact on your livelihood and reputation. That is why you must seek advice and representation from a reputable criminal defence lawyer.
At Keith J Tuck, we are committed to protecting our clients’ rights. Throughout the investigation and any court proceedings, we will examine the evidence thoroughly and challenge any instances where we believe the enforcement agencies have acted beyond their powers. We will seek to contest, vary or discharge investigative or enforcement orders imposed on you to minimise their impact as far as possible.
I have been arrested or charged with a serious rural offence. What should I do?
We urge you to contact a criminal defence lawyer with experience in defending serious and complex cases at the earliest opportunity. Our solicitors are available around the clock. We can start advising you from the moment you are interviewed by the police and at any point after that. If your case is taken to court, we will provide strong and effective representation.
We understand how unsettling these matters can be and that you may have concerns about what could happen to your finances and property. We are here to remove any uncertainty from the process and to protect your rights and interests.
Contact our Criminal Defence Solicitors Glasgow, Scotland
We provide expert advice and court representation to both privately funded and Legal Aid clients. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our criminal defence solicitors support clients from Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Call us now on 0141 336 2020 or contact us via our online contact form.