Devon and Cornwall Police join forces with Avon and Somerset Constabulary to target rural crime including poaching.

AN increase in rural crime, including deer poaching, has led to two police forces teaming up to combat the issue across Exmoor.

Devon and Cornwall Police has joined together with Avon and Somerset Constabulary and other agencies to work across Exmoor National Park.

In November last year the Gazette reported how 11 severed stags’ heads were found dumped in a lay-by in South Molton.

Shortly afterwards the National Wildlife Crime Unit launched Project Trespass to help combat poaching and this new partnership has followed on from that.

The Exmoor Rural Crime Initiative comprises of the two police forces, Exmoor National Park Authority, The National Trust, the Environment Agency, The Crown Estate, River Exe Tributaries Association, Forestry Commission and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Richard Eales, ranger for Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “The group’s purpose is to have a partnership approach in dealing with all aspects of rural crime within the Greater Exmoor area.

“Whilst this is a joint agency initiative I would encourage the community to report all aspects of crime including wildlife crime directly to the police by phoning 101 or via their websites www.avonandsomerset.police.uk or www.devon-cornwall.police.uk .”

The three main objectives of the group are prevention of deer and fish poaching, prevention of illegal off-road driving and raising the awareness and education within the communities on all aspects of crime and crime reduction.

Sergeant Dave Knight, of Devon and Cornwall Police, added: “The Exmoor National Park extends across both the policing areas and the park and its community has, in the past, been subject to different forms of criminality.

“By working together in partnership the aim is to reduce the rural crime and raise confidence to the benefit of all.”

The project will look to be particularly active in the coming autumn when the majority of deer and fish poaching takes place.

In the meantime the public are asked to report any incidents relating to wildlife crime or any other crime by phoning 101 or via their websites www.avonandsomerset.police.uk or www.devon-cornwall.police.uk.

People should always dial 999 if a crime is in progress or there is a risk to a person or property.

For more information on the NWCU - Project Trespass, visit:

http://www.nwcu.police.uk/news/nwcu-police-press-releases/putting-poachers-in-their-place-launch-of-project-trespass/