What is CountryWatch?
Two of the most invidious crimes in the countryside are that of wildlife lamping (hunting at night) for wild animals and poaching. There is also the additional crimes of stealing farm equipment (which may be worth many thousands of pounds) and causing serious damage to fields and crops.
These crimes were mentioned time and time again at the Neighbourhood Action Team meetings and so Safer Neighbourhoods were asked to look at the problem together with Humberside Police and our other partners and identify ways to combat the problem. Finally it we came up with a scheme which is based on the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme - local people would be asked to be our eyes and ears and report anything suspicious directly to us.
So what is lamping?
Lamping is where a number of poachers or hunters go out at night armed with a powerful spotlight and either guns or dogs. Once an animal is located with the spotlight it is either shot or the dogs are released to hunt it down.
Poaching - aren't they just putting food on the table?
The reality is poaching covers a lot of different areas including hare coursing, badger baiting and deer poaching. Hare coursing and badger baiting can be very profitable for the organisers. Thousands of pounds change hands from betting on which dog will kill the animal and how long it will take.
Poachers have also been known to intimidate farmers and their families with violence or else threaten to burn down barns or haystacks. Thousands of pounds worth of damage is caused to crops from vehicles driving over fields not to mention the cruel and barbaric acts committed against the animals themselves.
So you can see it is not simply some poor person putting food on his table to feed his family, but criminals making money at the expense of the farmer.
So how big is the problem?
Humberside accounts for 40% of all the reported offences of poaching nationally.
What are you doing about it?
A lot is the short answer – which includes:-
- Organising a wildlife conference for police and farmers to highlight the problem and informing people of the legislation for dealing with it;
- Getting information from farmers about nicknames for different areas of the county and arranging for them to be added to the police mapping system. For example [name of area/nickname of area]
- Liaising with Trading Standards on the sale of illegally poached venison and game;
- Additional training as standard for police officers on the law and arrest procedures for dealing with lamping and poaching;
- Working closely with other police forces on cross-border night poaching operations;
- CountryWatch has been set up (similar to Neighbourhood Watch Groups) and they have been provided with mobile phones in order to quickly report any illegal activity in their area;
- Lamping kits containing specialised equipment have been provided to the police to help them tackle the problem; and
- Last but not least we are actively working with farmers and rural communities to encourage them to report incidents to the police and pass on any information they have about lamping or poaching.
If you want to know more about what we do then please contact: Humberside Police Wildlife Officer by calling 101.