Safety warning after medicated lambs illegally slaughtered

Police have issued a warning over the sale of potentially dangerous illegal meat after officers discovered the illegal slaughter of at least 26 lambs and ewes.

The animals’ remains were found by officers on proactive rural patrols as part of Operation Stock in a field between Duston and Harpole at around 3:25am on Friday, August 30.

Operation Stock is the Northamptonshire Police investigation into incidents of illegal sheep butchery and theft. The National Farmers’ Union estimates the gangs behind the incidents have killed more than 700 sheep across Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire since February.

When officers alerted the farmer to the incident, he explained some of the slaughtered animals had recently been treated with medication which would mean they could not currently enter the food chain.

Inspector Tracy Moore, who leads on rural crime at Northamptonshire Police, said: “This incident has caused the farmer a great deal of distress, as well as to the officers who discovered the scene.

“We are also concern about where the stolen meat may end up, as due to the recent use of veterinary medication, it may not be fit for human consumption.

Alongside our Trading Standards partners, our advice to the public remains to only buy meat from reputable outlets and to avoid buying cheap meat in suspicious circumstances.

“The Operation Stock investigation remains ongoing with active lines of enquiry being followed up both within our force and neighbouring police forces.

“Sadly this incident shows the need for the public to remain vigilant and call in any suspicious activity in rural areas or around livestock to police on 101, or 999 if they believe a crime is in progress.”

Cllr. Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place, who has responsibility for Trading Standards, added: “We would reiterate the message that people should only buy meat from dependable places as cheap meat sold in unusual circumstances may not be fit for human consumption.

“Meat which isn’t suitable for people to eat can have serious health repercussions for anyone consuming it.”

Anyone with information about the latest incident is asked to contact police with the reference number ‘19000460803’.