Gamekeepers in Scotland are to be the subject of a recruitment drive to become special constables.

A new joint initiative between Central Scotland Police and Tayside Police, the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) and the Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA) will seek to enlist gamekeepers, stalkers and landowners to become special constables — part-time volunteer officers who have all the same powers as regular police officers.

Recruitment for the project, which will be piloted in the Central Scotland and Tayside areas, will begin this spring with the intention to have the first 12 “rural specials” in service by the end of the year.

Central Scotland police deputy chief constable Iain McLeod, who heads the

wildlife crime team for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), announced the initative in an address at the annual wildlife crime conference, held at the Scottish Police College, Tulliallan, on 18 February. He said: “Special constables perform a valuable role both in terms of delivering policing with a real local flavour and, through their voluntary status, giving something back to communities across our area. The specials who are recruited will work closely with dedicated community policing teams in rural areas to help deliver on our absolute commitment to protect the public and prevent and tackle crime.”

Countryside and shooting organisations have welcomed the move. SRPBA’s Douglas McAdam commented: “Not only is this an extremely important measure to address rural crime, it will also be a valuable exercise in rebuilding confidence and trust between rural communities and the police.

Gamekeepers, for instance, are in many cases the eyes and ears of the countryside, and these attributes can be used to good effect in this ground-breaking initiative. This will deliver a win-win situation for all in our rural communities.”

For more details on applying to become a special constable, contact Central Scotland Police’s recruiting officer Anne Johnstone, tel 01786 456335 or visit www.centralscotland.police.uk.

The rest of this article appears in 26 February issue of Shooting Times.

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