Leicestershire Police are urging people to respect the countryside as reports of criminal damage in rural areas including Rutland nearly doubled during the pandemic.
Between April 2020 & March 2021 Leicestershire Police received 121 reports of damage to farms, farmhouses, stables and fields in Leicestershire and Rutland compared to 61 between 2019 and 2020 and 67 between 2018 and 2019. Incidents included damage to gates, fences and hedges and vehicles being driven on farmers’ land. The number of dog attacks on livestock also increased from 11 to 18.
The increase in crime coincided with the series of national lockdowns in which the county’s rural areas and beauty spots gained popularity with people looking to walk their dogs, meet friends and take daily exercise. Inspector Siobhan Gorman from Leicestershire police said;
“We want people to enjoy the beautiful rural areas of Leicestershire and Rutland but we are asking people to please respect the rules of the countryside after all that is how farmers make their living. If you are walking your dog in the countryside and are unfamiliar with the area, always keep your dog on the lead as there could be sheep and cattle nearby that you aren’t aware of. Sheep worrying is an offence and you could be liable for prosecution and heavy financial penalties if your dog is involved in an incident of this type.
“Always plan your route, stick to footpaths and please abide by any signs or rules, don’t remove them, or deface them, as they are there for a reason and please don’t remove or damage fencing. Farmers work hard to maintain their boundaries to ensure their animals remain enclosed and safe.”
Those out enjoying Rutland’s beauty spots are urged to be observant and report criminal damage or suspicious behaviour by dialling 999 if an incident is in progress or 101 to report a crime.