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Operation Sentinel Rural

Operation Sentinel Rural is the force’s dedicated team which deals with specifically rural crimes. The team is working closely with local communities and partners to keep the rural areas of the county safe.

The team has a number of operations tackling different forms of rural crime:

  • Operation Torby – tackling vehicle crime
  • Operation Galileo – tackling hare coursing
  • Operation Traverse – tackling poaching and fish thefts

Additionally, the team responds to reports of sheep worrying, fly tipping and other incidents in rural areas of our county.

Local communities have the opportunity to support the rural team by participating in a number of watch schemes like Horse Watch and Street Watch.

What is hare coursing?

Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds, which chase the hare by sight, not by scent.

Although in some countries it is legal and an accepted sporting activity, it has been banned in the United Kingdom under the Hunting Act since 2004.

Legal consequences of hare coursing include a fine, criminal behaviour order or a restraining order, as well as the dog or vehicle being seized.

Do not confront the potential offender.

What is sheep worrying?

Sheep worrying is a dog chasing, biting or otherwise inflicting stress on livestock in the countryside.

It is an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep as this crime can cause serious financial loss to the farmers. Sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, causing damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.

Dogs chasing ewes and lambs can cause mis-mothering issues, with lambs dying from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother.

Dog bites can cause death in sheep or necessitate them being put down at a later date. In less severe cases, they can result in considerable veterinary bills and further welfare issues as a result of flies being attracted to the blood, leading to a nasty health problem in sheep called ‘fly strike’. Injuries to sheep can also delay the normal farming routine, be it the mating season or administration of vital medicines and vaccines.

Sheep worrying can result in dog seizure, a dog destruction order and a fine.

In some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep.

Do not confront the potential offender.

Fish poaching and fish thefts

Taking wild fish from a river is poaching, but removing a dead fish from a fisherman's car boot is theft. Removing fish from keep-nets, fishing nets and traps is theft.

It is an offence to take or destroy, or attempt to do so, any fish in water which is private property or in which there is any private right of fishery.

A person commits an offence if, in any place in which fishing of any description is regulated by a system of licensing:

  • Is fishing without a license
  • has in their possession, for the purpose of taking or killing fish, an instrument other than one which they are authorised to use by licence.

It is an offence under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 to fish for, take or kill fish during the close season. The season for each species vary according to the method used. In addition the seasons may differ, by several weeks, from one water authority to another.

There is no close season on certain still waters and certain canals.

Also it is illegal to set traps and nets in this area without an appropriate licence from the government’s Fisheries and Rod Licensing department.

Any fishing is illegal if it could be harmful to the natural habitat of the protected species, like otters, in the area.

Report it

If you believe any of these activities is taking place in your area,you can  report it online or by call 101. If the crime is still in progress, call 999.

For illegal fishing you can also call the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

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