I was interested to read the findings of a survey by the Scottish Countryside Alliance on rural crime, and the perception of how it is treated by the police.
I have often spoken out about fly-tipping, which has become an increasing problem in Banff and Buchan recently. Indeed, figures I obtained via a freedom of information request found there had been at least 276 incidents in the constituency between March and August this year alone.
In addition to fly-tipping, other crimes reported include thefts from outbuildings, vandalism, poaching and theft of agricultural machinery.
The survey found that a third of people in rural areas of Scotland said a crime had been committed against them in the last 12 months.
The more worrying statistic was that 39% of people who fell victim to crime didn’t report it because they had no confidence that action would be taken.
The Scottish Countryside Alliance said we have a rural population “simply putting up with crime".
We should be doing much better than that.
Ever since I became an MP, I have done my best to stand up for people living in rural areas who too often feel that they are at the back of the queue.
It happens with broadband services, mobile phone coverage and access to banking.
Just because a crime is committed in the countryside does not make it any different from a crime committed in a city.
I know that Police Scotland are severely stretched. Since the establishment of the single force in 2013, the SNP government has made £200million in budget cuts, while local police stations have closed up and down the country.
But there can be no excuse for a situation in which people feel that reporting a crime to the police is be a waste of time.
The Scottish Government should look closely at the findings of this survey and ensure rural crime is taken seriously.
On a more positive note, it has been cheering to see the Christmas trees and decorations going up around Banff.
After the year we have had, it is no surprise that some people decided to create some Christmas sparkle a bit earlier than normal.
All our lives were turned upside down by the pandemic in March, and Covid continues to cast a shadow over everything we do.
As I write this, Aberdeenshire remains at level 2 of national Covid restrictions. Earlier this week, the region narrowly avoided being moved up into level 3.
Cases have been rising in recent weeks, with NHS Grampian reporting that the surge in positive infections suggested there was now community transmission of the virus.
It would be a real shame if we were pushed into tougher restrictions so close to Christmas, so I would stress that we cannot afford to be complacent.
We cannot tell ourselves that it is only in England and the Central Belt that the virus has spread out of control.
The only way to keep safe is to follow the social distancing and hygiene guidelines – wash our hands regularly, cover our faces and make space for one another.
The alternative could be many businesses having to shut their doors or severely limit the service they provide. Hopefully we can avoid that and keep local premises open over the coming festive period.