Reports of criminal damage in Leicestershire countryside double in lockdown
Leicestershire Police is urging people to respect the countryside as reports of criminal damage in rural areas across Leicestershire have nearly doubled during the pandemic.
Rural areas and beauty spots have been popular with people looking to walk their dogs, meet friends and take their daily exercise during the national lockdowns. However, between April 2020 to March 2021, Leicestershire Police received 121 reports of damage to farms, farmhouses, stables and fields compared to 61 between 2019 and 2020 and 67 between 2018 and 2019.
Incidents include damage to gates, fences and hedges, vehicles being driven on farmers land and the number of dog attacks on livestock has increased from 11 to 18.
Inspector Siobhan Gorman said: “Visitors to the countryside have increased as a way of getting out during lockdown and more people have bought dogs which need exercising. 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.”
There are a number of websites such as www.footpathmap.co.uk which will tell you where the footpaths are and outline the difference between a footpath, bridleway and byway.
Anyone who witnesses such incidents can report online or ring 101.