Night drone patrols enlisted to crack down on illegal field butchery

Police in Northamptonshire are now using thermal imagery drones to keep an eye on livestock overnight as an investigation into illegal sheep butchery continues.

Under Operation Stock officers are investigating several reports of the illegal butchery of lambs and sheep across the county. It’s thought at least than 100 sheep have been butchered illegally in the county since March.

Using the drone’s thermal image technology and flying no higher than 400ft, its operators can monitor large rural areas, with any heat sources such as livestock, people or vehicles shown up in bright yellow.

If any suspicious activity is spotted, the operators can liaise with officers on the ground to check it out.

The drone patrols are being carried out alongside ongoing ground patrols and community engagement by officers, who are also linked in with neighbouring forces who have seen similar incidents.

The investigation is also supported by officers from the Rural Crime Team, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, CID and more.

As the investigation into the illegal slaughter incidents continues, the force is reminding anyone who sees anything suspicious to call 101 quoting ‘Operation Stock’, or 999 in an emergency.

Van connection ruled out

In other news related to incidents, a van seized by police has been eliminated from Operation Stock enquiries

The investigation is linked in with neighbouring forces, including Warwickshire and Leicestershire, which have also seen a number of recent cases of illegal butchery.

After receiving information from Warwickshire Police, on Tuesday, July 30, officers in Northamptonshire issued a message via Neighbourhood Alert to ask residents in the Daventry district to look out for the white Ford vehicle.

Sightings reported by the public allowed officers to track its movements, and the vehicle was stopped by farmers in Naseby on July 31.

Police attended and seized the vehicle after the male driver and passenger, both from Warwickshire, failed to give an explanation for their activities in Northamptonshire. No arrests were made.

An examination by officers revealed nothing to scientifically link the vehicle to Operation Stock offences and it will be released back to its owner and eliminated from enquiries.

Sergeant Sam Dobbs said: “After issuing our Neighbourhood Alert message asking people to keep an eye out for this van we had a fantastic response in terms of sightings and information.

“We acted on this information to stop the vehicle and speak to those travelling in it. As they were not able to explain why they had been in Naseby, or a number of other Northamptonshire villages, officers seized the van for examination, which has shown it is not linked to Operation Stock offences.”

He added a referral regarding the vehicle has been made to Daventry District Council over possible contravention of rules relating to the collection of scrap metal in the area.