The Dorset Police Rural Crime Team consists of a dedicated rural crime co-ordinator, a rural engagement officer and a rural crime analyst. It also includes nominated officers who are points of contact for each of Dorset's five rural sections: Bridport, Dorchester and Sherborne, Purbeck, East Dorset and North Dorset.
Nearly half of Dorset's population live in rural areas: the Rural Crime Team works closely with partners across Dorset to ensure they are engaged with and protected.
The launch of the new team forms part of Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill’s first 100 Days in Office Pledges. The team began work on Monday 15 August 2016.
This page will be regularly updated with information on what the Rural Crime Team have been up to, what their priorities are and how you can meet the team.
Meet the Rural Crime Team
Poaching and its linked crimes have a significant impact on our rural communities and local businesses.
Poachers have no regard for the welfare of wildlife and will cut padlocks or cause damage to gates, spoil newly sown or treated crops when driving at wildlife such as hare and deer, and either run long dogs like Lurchers or Salukis or use firearms to bring down deer for the illegal meat trade.
The Rural Crime Team urges anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it to us as the more information the public provide, the more we can target key areas. Making a note of vehicle registrations, as long as it is safe to do so, is just one of the ways you can help make it harder for poachers. Some residents have also dug trenches to prevent vehicle access and our joint patrols of the Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire borders mean we can cover a wide area.
Twenty-first century poaching is not ‘one for the pot’ but a hobby carried out by organised criminals who are often well known to police for burglary and theft. They will use time in these locations to build extensive knowledge of where high value items can be found. Some are targeting deer for the illegal meat trade and are putting the public at risk by bringing down and butchering animals in dirty conditions, not checking for disease and faecal contamination, which causes unsafe meat to enter the food chain.
The Rural Crime Team are working in partnership with officers from Trading Standards and Environmental Health to identify where such illegal trade is active and are using a of range of powers to deter offenders.
Dorset Police takes poaching seriously- anyone seen poaching should be reported by calling 999 for a crime in progress. Or to report evidence of poachers on your land, visit the Dorset Police website to do it online https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorset Farm Watch
Farm Watch has been created to encourage farmers, landowners and anyone with an interest in countryside pursuits to improve security measures and so reduce rural crime.
The scheme allows Dorset Police to work in partnership with the rural community, alerting them to criminal activity, advising what to look out for and providing crime prevention advice.
The main aims of Farm Watch are to:
- Reduce the opportunities for crime in farming and rural communities
- Strengthen community spirit, so that everyone works together and plays their part in protecting his or her property
- Improve two-way communication between the police and the rural and farming community
- Encourage people to report suspicious activity and vehicles immediately
- Reduce the fear of crime in the rural and farming community
Members are encouraged to subscribe to Dorset Police Community Messaging so that they can be notified immediately if there is any relevant information which may affect the security of their land, buildings, equipment or animals.
Keep firearms safe by following Dorset Police’s safety advice:
- Keep your gun locked up in a locked cabinet, preferably hidden within a larger storage area. This prevents curious children, houseguests or even burglars from accidentally mishandling your gun.
- Never put a loaded firearm or shotgun away in your cabinet.
- Never trust a safety catch on any gun. Treat it only as a second line of defence because it could be faulty and remember nobody was ever shot by an open and empty gun.
- Never allow unsupervised or unsuitable persons, especially children, access to your firearm or shotgun.
- Never leave a firearm or shotgun, even unloaded, unattended.
- Always keep your firearm or shotgun in its case or cover whilst transporting it.
- Never transport a loaded firearm or shotgun and if possible don’t leave a firearm or shotgun in an unattended vehicle.
- When transporting a firearm or shotgun, remove the fore end or other parts.
- More information on Firearms and Shotguns in Dorset can be found out here: https://www.dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/safety-in-your-community/firearms-licensing/
Fuel and Heating Oil Security
Where possible, keep fuel tanks locked and alarmed by installing them within secure buildings or cage. Consider installing anti-siphon devices, keep a check your oil levels regularly and install motion sensing CCTV and lighting.
If it’s impossible to keep your tank inside a building, consider planting spikey shrubs and use gravel and fencing to hide your tank. Make sure any empty drums are removed to avoid drawing attention to your oil tank and these being used to steal your oil.
Report any suspicious activity to Dorset Police via our website https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online . If a crime is in progress or there are life threatening incidents, dial 999.
Fly-tipping is the illegal deposit of any waste onto land, or any waste dumped or tipped on a site with no licence to accept waste.
If you are concerned about fly-tipping in your area, you can report it to your local council to clear it away.
Gate & Metal Thefts
- Be suspicious of people arriving at farms asking about scrap metal and batteries and report these incidences to Dorset Police. Take a photo if it is safe to do so.
- Weld a plate to the top of gate hinges to prevent them from being removed.
- Put blobs of weld around gate hinge so they cannot be easily lifted off.
- Thieves also target catalytic converters on vehicles especially 4x4s and other vehicle with high ground clearances this is due to the ease of stealing them , so report people looking under vehicles.
- Consider marking gates and hurdles with a UV marking spray.
- Reverse hinge the gates and place padlocks in a metal box which is welded to the gate.
- Use old wooden gates as they may be less desirable for thieves.
- Record any identifying features and serial numbers and keep them as secure as possible.
- Join a Farmwatch by visiting Dorsetalert.co.uk
- Report all suspicious incidents to Dorset Police via the Dorset Police website https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online or rmmail us at email@example.com
Dorset Horse Watch
Dorset is a fabulous county for the horse rider and owner, whether it be galloping along the shore, trekking through the countryside, or training the competitive horse.
Equine crime can be soul destroying and it is not just about the financial loss there is also the emotional distress, and it is a sad fact that horses, trailers, lorries and tack can occasionally disappear without trace.
Being a member of Dorset Horse Watch can help to protect you from crime as you can access security advice and information, which will help you to keep your equine and tack safe. As a member you will receive information on equine related incidents and incidents from across the county of Dorset, so that you can be aware of any suspicious activity that may occur.
We offer security advice on all aspects of horse ownership and yard security, whether you own a single horse or a competition yard.
Everyone is a potential target for thieves, but membership of Dorset Horse Watch allows us to pass on to you the advice and help that you need to help you prevent crime.
Livestock worrying ranges from dogs chasing sheep, an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 , to sheep being savaged or killed by out of control dogs.
The impact of sheep attacks on a rural or farming business can be devastating. Farmers will not only suffer the expense of vet bills but the stress of an attack can cause pregnant ewes to abort their lambs, which leads to a decrease the possible flock size.
Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953
“If a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and, if it is the charge of a person other than the owner, that person also shall be guilty of an offence under this Act. “
What is ‘worrying’?
Worrying means attacking or chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or
diminution in their produce. Also being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.
What is ‘agricultural land’?
Agricultural land means land used as arable, meadow or grazing land, or used for the purpose of poultry farming, pig farming, market gardens, allotments, nursery grounds or orchards.
This legislation does not apply to a dog owned by or in charge of the occupier of the field or enclosure or the owner of the sheep or a person authorised by either of those persons. Neither does it apply to a police dog, a guide dog, trained sheep dog, a working gun dog or a pack of hounds.
The Animals Act 1971
Section 9 of the Animals Act 1971 provides that the owner of livestock, the landowner or anyone acting on their behalf, is entitled to shoot any dog if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping it worrying livestock. Such action must be reported to the local Police within 48 hours
Dorset Police Rural Crime Team urges dog owners to be responsible when walking your dog in the countryside.
Keep dogs under control at all times and do not allow them to enter a field alone. Make sure your dog is on a lead when crossing through fields containing livestock and if you find yourself threatened by cattle, do not hold on to your dog’s lead, instead let go of the lead as the cattle will chase the dog. Keep to rights of way and, if your dog has previously chased or attacked livestock, take responsible measures to prevent it happening again.
Farmers, landowners, livestock owners
- To prevent attacks put signs up on gateways alerting dog walkers to the presence of livestock in the fields.
- If you find evidence of livestock being attacked take photographs of all injuries sustained
- If you are able to, secure the dog until police arrive so evidence can be gathered to identify the owner of the dog.
To report an incident of livestock worrying, use the Dorset Police website https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or to report a crime in progress or risk to life call 999
Farmers and Smallholders are asked to check livestock and the security of perimeter fencing regularly.
- If sheep or cattle are making more noise than usual it could mean something has disturbed them.
- Make sure gates to the field are secured by using a suitable chain and padlock and ensure hinges are capped or inverted to prevent their removal.
- Block any unused gateways with machinery or large tree trunks.
- Use herd or flock ear tags, horn brands, freeze marking or tattooing to make your animals more easily identifiable should they be stolen.
- Install CCTV in barns or yards and keep gates locked.
- Use hard landscaping such as ditches, mounds and hedges to make vulnerable fields less easily accessible for vehicles. Installing bollards and removable cattle grids can also be effective.
- Installing remote gate alarms and hidden cameras that will alert owners instantly if someone unauthorized is driving vehicles across their land.
Always report any suspicious activity involving livestock to Dorset Police. You can report crimes via the Dorset Police website https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online or call 999 if a crime is in progress or there is a risk to life.
Rural Crime Prevention
Farmyards, farmhouses, barns and outbuildings hold a lot of valuable equipment which appeals to thieves – such as power tools, quad bikes, machinery and diesel. Isolated buildings containing machinery pose the greatest risk as they are easy to access without thieves being disturbed.
You can deter would-be thieves by taking the following preventative steps:
- Be security aware- look at your weak points and see what you can do to improve security or reduce offender’s movements around your farm.
- Remember to lock all doors and windows when you leave the house, including when you’re out in the garden.
- Install an alarm which includes a box on the outside wall in a prominent position to act as a good deterrent.
- Mark your property with your postcode and house name/number.
- Secure areas around buildings where power tools, quad bikes, machinery and diesel are kept and consider using intruder sensors, CCTV cameras and security lighting.
- Try to restrict access to your land and property with gates, using British Standard locks, and high security padlocks.
- Invert or cap the hinges of gates around the farm for extra security and preventing gates being lifted off the hinges.
- Consider digging ditches around the farm when other security measures such as thorny hedges aren’t adequate enough to keep out vehicles, ditches should be a meter wide by a meter deep.
- Park vehicles or machinery in front of access doors and gateways to prevent easy access by vehicles or persons to the farm.
- Install good outside security lighting, CCTV and intruder alarms will deter most thieves but make sure they are checked regularly to ensure they will work when you need them and they are placed in a position that won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind.
- Mark all valuable equipment, tools and other property with the name of your farm and the postcode – UV pens, engraving, stamping, tagging or forensic marking are all options to consider.
- Display security marking signs to show you have security making the farm a lesser target.
- Lay gravel rather than hard standing concrete or tarmac around farm buildings, this makes a noise and will alert you to the presence of unwanted visitors and acts as another good deterrent to criminals.
- Educate tractor drivers and farm workers of the security arrangements expected of them when working on your farm and encourage staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police at the time of discovery.
- Ensure you have adequate insurance cover should the worst happen and look at including fly tipping insurance should you happen to become a victim of fly tipping.
Agricultural vehicles such as tractors, telehandlers and 4x4’s have become a target for thieves in recent years follow these steps to keep your vehicle safe and secure:
- Fitting immobilizers, VHF and GPS Tracker devices on all vehicles
- Fit a dash cam to your vehicle for valuable evidence and intelligence
- Install security lighting with sensors
- Fit roller shutter doors to the front of buildings with key entry.
- Investigate options for anti-theft devices, including alarms and security marking such as CESAR
- Have the vehicle identification number etched on windows where possible.
- Consider using Autoglass & NFU partnership free security glass etching service for NFU Mutual customers.
- Record machinery serial numbers and photographs for reference – a picture of the stolen vehicle will increase publicity prospects and recovery
- Lock vehicles and keep keys in a secure location and out of view, not hidden in the vehicle
- Secure your vehicle using suitable locking devices and to fixed points on the ground using heavy duty security chain and padlocks.
- Ensure any trailers or towable machinery has suitable locks, such as a towing eye lock, which can be used on all types of ring hitch.
- Livestock trailers should be security marked with wheel clamps to secure wheels considers also using a hitch lock.
- Leave implements in a way that would require time or knowledge to move the implement such as extending arms and booms and remove linkages pins and balls.
- Airline locks can also be used to secure agricultural machinery fitted with air brakes; this is done by preventing the release of the air from the brakes.
- Where possible use wheel clamps to secure your trailers and other machinery that is suitable for wheel clamps such as horse and cattle trailers.
- When farm machinery must be left in a field or other remote location overnight park it away from public roads and out of sight, ideally making sure that the vehicle or machinery is locked, the keys are removed and that toolboxes and other removable items are also removed.
- Machines fitted and registered with security markings are four times less likely to be stolen and six times more likely to be recovered if they are stolen.
- Insurance discounts are available for farmers fitting certain devices to machines from the NFU.
- Consider joining Farmwatch, more information can be found here at : https://www.dorsetalert.co.uk/
Rights of Way
It is illegal to block access to any by-ways, bridleways and footpaths.
Public footpaths are open only to walkers, bridleways are open to walkers, horse riders and pedal cyclists, and restricted byways are open to walkers, horse riders, and drivers of non-motorised vehicles such as horse drawn carriages and pedal cycles. Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATS) are open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, though they may not be maintained to the same standard as ordinary roads.
Dorset County Council’s rights of way team works with farmers and landowners to advise on any issues regarding rights of access.
In England, it’s a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped before eight weeks old. Failure to do so could resort in a fine of up to £500.
All dogs should wear a collar with identification when in public. Don’t put your dog’s name on the tag, just a surname and contact number.
If your dog is neutered, it will reduce the chances of the dog being stolen for breeding.
Consider having your dog tattooed in its ear with an identification number this will provide a visual deterrent as well as a permanent mark.
Change the location of where you walk and the times, and try to make sure that your dog is not out of sight during the walk.
Make any kennels or outhouses that dogs are kept in are as secure as possible by fitting a good quality padlock with security lighting, alarms and CCTV.
Consider having CCTV and alarms linked to your phone to see what’s going on when you’re not at home.
Make sure your dog’s microchip is registered and your details are up-to-date here https://www.gov.uk/get-your-dog-microchipped
Heritage assets are sites which are considered to have a value to the heritage of England and include:
- Listed buildings
- Scheduled monuments
- World Heritage Sites
- Protected marine wreck sites
- Conservation areas
- Registered parks and gardens
- Registered battlefields
- Protected military remains of aircraft and vessels of historic interest
- Undesignated but acknowledged heritage buildings and sites
Some of these heritage assets are protected by specific criminal offences to prevent harm caused by damage and unlicensed alteration.
However, other crimes such as theft, criminal damage, arson and anti-social behaviour offences can also damage and harm heritage assets and interfere with the public's enjoyment and knowledge of heritage assets.
Check out this crime prevention guide from Historic England.
999 - Emergency number
You should call 999 when it is an emergency, such as when:
- A crime is in progress
- Someone suspected of a crime is nearby
- There is danger to life or property or
- Violence is being used or threatened.
101 - National non-emergency number
You should call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response.
For example, you should call 101 if:
- Your property has been stolen or damaged and the suspect is no longer at the scene
- You suspect unlawful metal detecting is happening in your neighbourhood
- You need to give the police information about crime or anti-social behaviour in your area
- You want to speak to the police about a general enquiry
101 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For non emergency enquiries and bespoke crime prevention adivice, email the Rural Crime Team here.
Dorset Police Rural Crime Team
Rural Crime Team
Give the team your views!
The Rural Crime Team want to know what your concerns are, your opinions of the Force and how you would like to engage with Dorset Police.
The survey will only take around 10 minutes and will help the team work in a way that suits rural communities. Click HERE to fill out the survey.