Police urge the public to ‘respect the countryside’ after increase of criminal damage to farms

Police in Leicestershire have said that reports of criminal damage has “almost doubled” since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they have urged the public to respect the countryside while out on walks.

Leicestershire Police said that there had been a sharp increase in reports of vandalism such as damage to hedges, fences and gates along with vehicles being driven across farmland.

Inspector Siobhan Gorman 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.”

Leicestershire Police said that they received 121 reports of damage to farms, farmhouses, stables and fields from March 2020 to March 2021, compared to 61 in 2019/20 and 67 in 2018/19. The number of reported dog attacks on livestock increased from 11 to 18.

“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,” she concluded.