Fighting rural crime and livestock worrying

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) announced that Thursday 8 November is a day of action in support of its new NPCC Rural Affairs Strategy, encouraging forces to do what they can to combat rural crime.

Devon & Cornwall Police Service has chosen to raise awareness of livestock worrying by uncontrolled pet dogs and the damage, the upset and financial loss that it causes, the way in which dog walkers and owners can avoid getting into trouble over this issue, plus how landowners can report it.

Inspector Paul Morgan said: “We have created online reporting forms to assist farmers and their representatives to email reports into the force, updated advice and guidance for our call handlers and operations rooms, and produced aide memoires for operational staff to improve our response to reports of livestock worrying.”

Report livestock worrying online here.

Of course, rural crime is also a huge issue, such as fly-tipping, hare coursing and theft. Crimestoppers in partnership with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) also provides a phone number and online form to report large-scale fly-tipping, hare coursing, livestock theft and machinery theft anonymously – 0800 783 0137 or see here.

The force has also updated the relevant guidance for landowners and dog walkers on its website. Guidance is also available in leaflet form, produced in association with four other police forces, which can be downloaded and printed from the website.

Inspector Morgan continued: “We need everyone who walks or owns dogs in the vicinity of livestock to be aware of the devastation that worrying and attacks by dogs can have on the animals and on the livelihoods of their owners.

“It is best avoided by ensuring that dogs are on leads when anywhere near livestock, a simple precaution that prevents any damage and ensures the dog remains safe as well too.”

Against this backdrop, Devon and Cornwall Police also announced the appointment of two new rural affairs police constable roles.

PC Martin Beck in Devon and PC Chris Collins in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will enhance how the Force deals with rural crime, through managing the partnership working required to deliver effective problem solving and by supporting neighbourhood officers and other staff.

The priority areas of crime that they will be addressing are:

•             Theft of farm machinery and vehicles

•             Livestock offences

•             Fuel theft

•             Equine offences

•             Poaching (working together with wildlife crime officers)

•             Fly-tipping (as members of the national action group).

Inspector Morgan said: “The focus of these officers will be on improving how the force receives, allocates and investigates reports of rural crime in order to support the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Rural Affairs Strategy.

“While they will undoubtedly be involved in hands-on policing they won’t be the only officers involved in dealing with rural crime. Their skills and experience will be leveraged by supporting neighbourhood policing teams with the requisite knowledge, skills and contacts to handle rural matters effectively.

“This work builds on the success of our current Special Constabulary rural engagement team who have, over the past few years, been recognised nationally for the way in which they have offered crime prevention advice, increased the number of Farm Watch scheme members and instigated formal policing operations, such as the Rural Road Safety Roadshow earlier this year.”

More about rural crime including leaflets about property marking, Farm Watch, Horse Watch and Sheep Watch UK may be found here.

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