08:00 Saturday 24 November 2012

Poachers in spotlight for rural crime week

Written byROB SMYTH

STAFFORDSHIRE Police are holding a week of activity to highlight their work to tackle wildlife and rural crime.

The scheme, which runs from Monday to Sunday, December 2, has been set up to highlight the everyday work done by the force and its partners on rural crimes in East Staffordshire.

The week involves co-ordinated activities by organisations from the Staffordshire Wildlife and Countryside Group, including patrols of poaching hotspots.

Superintendent Dave Holdway, force lead for rural crime, said: “Wildlife and rural crime can affect a wide section of communities in Staffordshire.

“It can include poaching, the mistreatment of animals used in baiting, the disturbance and taking of wild birds and the theft of farming or equestrian equipment.

“I am optimistic that this week of publicised activity, hopefully the first of many, will demonstrate to our communities that we are committed to tackling these crimes.

“While our wildlife officers are very knowledgeable, by uniting with members of the partnership group we can ensure a joined-up approach and partners with specialist expertise can inform the ‘policing’ of wildlife matters.

“We want to send out a clear message to those who may be involved in poaching, baiting, or burglaries and thefts in rural areas. We are actively patrolling these areas and will disrupt activity, and want to make sure our rural communities know that we take their issues seriously.

“We are keen to make sure these com- munities know we, and partners, are here for them to report any issues to.

“The week will involve the execution of warrants, targeted patrols of hotspot poaching areas and high-visibility policing in rural areas.”

Derek Crawley, chairman of the Staffordshire Wildlife and Countryside Group, said: “Wildlife crime is a serious issue in Staffordshire and beyond, with criminals abusing wildlife as part of their leisure activities and often taking items from rural homes and businesses.

“This week of action will show the public and criminals alike that rural organisations working in partnership with the police care about our countryside and its protection.”

Anyone with information about illegal activity should call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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