A concerned resident has voiced fears over the ‘escalating problem’ of poaching, which she claims is an ‘ever-growing threat to the countryside, people’s livelihoods and possibly their lives’.
The resident, who did not want to be named, said the issue in rural parts of the county ‘has the potential to be as serious as major crimes in urban areas’.
She said: “Poaching, hare coursing and chasing deer has developed to such an extent that the people committing these offences don’t seem to worry if they are seen and they are doing this in broad daylight.
“This problem needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later, before someone is killed and/or property damaged.
“People in rural areas see the aftermath of the destruction and total disregard these gangs have for the animals, land, crops, fences and gates.
“Recently, someone my husband knows was hit by a car driven by poachers. Thankfully he wasn’t badly hurt, but this may not have been the case.
“You have neighbourhood watch schemes in towns and villages. Could the same principal be applied to the countryside?”
A police spokeswoman said that tackling rural crime is important and neighbourhood teams work closely with farms and rural communities to give them crime-prevention advice.
She added: “We’re committed to ensuring our rural areas remain a safe place and we target criminals to tackle those causing the most harm to our communities.
“We work closely with farming communities and we have listened to their concerns about the illegal activities of poachers and those who travel from outside the area to commit crime. We have a successful Farmwatch scheme which operates in the county which allows officers to build a better picture of what’s going on in the more rural areas, to share information quickly and to remain in constant contact with members of rural communities.
“In addition to this, we regularly participate in Operation Checkpoint – a joint operation involving other northern police forces to deal with criminals using the road network. It is designed to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network and bring anyone found breaking the law to justice.”
The last Operation Checkpoint, at the start of the month, resulted in 207 vehicles being stopped/checked, a number of arrests and vehicles seized and 17 drivers reported for offences, including wildlife crime. Property seized included poaching equipment and dead rabbits.