Poaching crackdown sees offences fall by a third

Police at the scene of a poaching near Patrick Brompton.

A problem-solving approach to tackling rural crime has seen the number of poaching incidents drop by almost a third in the space of a year, a report has revealed.

The report by the office of North Yorkshire and York Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe highlights how since the launch of North Yorkshire Police’s Operation Figaro last year, 241 individuals have received warning letters and 41 have received Criminal Behaviour Warnings.

A further five Criminal Behaviour Notices, which act like an injunction, and a Criminal Behaviour Order have also been issued, alongside “proactive correspondence” to all those issued with notices and warnings to remind them of the conditions they must not breach.

The report, which will be scrutinised by a meeting of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel on Thursday, states poaching crimes have fallen by 32 per cent from the September to April “poaching season” in 2021 to the same period this year.

The significant cut in poaching comes just a year after the force’s chief inspector of specialist operations announced it had become the force’s number one rural crime issue.

It also follows the Government announcing new measures this summer to tackle the crime including increasing sentences to up to six months in jail and introducing two new criminal offences relating to trespassing with the intention of hare coursing.

Retired Wensleydale farmer John Amsden said he had noticed a significant decrease in the number of “odd vehicles carrying four people and dogs” in the area since the operation was launched.

He said: “While poaching hasn’t been as lucrative as it used to be , it might become more so now food prices are going up. They might start coming out again a lot more.”

The report states that despite the fall in offences, poaching has remained the number one rural wildlife crime priority in North Yorkshire.

It states: “The impact of poaching as a crime are vast and can include not only emotional distress, but damage to land and livelihoods.”

Other members of the farming community said while the force was focusing on poaching, concerns over thefts and speeding needed more attention.

Nevertheless, the report underlines how the force introduced a new operating model for its Rural Taskforce last November to enable the team to focus on those offenders considered to be causing the highest harm within specific communities.

It says the cut in the number of recorded offences is a result of initiatives such as training on poaching becoming mandatory for all frontline officers and those staff working in the Force Control Room, additional drone capability for the Rural Taskforce and training more officers to use of off-road motorcycles.