The Crime Stoppers ‘Stop Poaching’ campaign went live on Monday 19th October. Whilst this campaign originated in the South West, it has also been launched under the Crime Stoppers banner with the intention of raising awareness and ‘flagging’ a means of reporting deer poaching and illegal meat activity for anyone who knows something but doesn’t understand where to report it.

Follow the Devon & Cornwall Police social media Twitter and Facebook accounts (Twitter: @DC_Police and Facebook: DevonAndCornwallPolice) and repost-retweet messages that originate there from Monday onwards. The hashtag to link the conversation is #stoppoaching

PC Martin Beck of Devon & Cornwall Police writes: “The Police and other agencies have been looking at the poaching issue in the South West for the last few hunting seasons in response to concerns from rural communities. There have been successes and this year we have had the opportunity to bolster our commitment by working in partnership with other government agencies. A group of government agencies including Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall Police, The National Wildlife Crime Unit, Food Standards Agency, Trading Standards, various Environmental Heath Officers from the South West, Environment Agency, Animal & Plant Health Agency and Crime Stoppers have united to tackle this issue.

“The South West Anti-Poaching Group is a great example of how agencies are now working together on an issue which extends beyond the remit of any individual department. The group will be sharing information and intelligence on those involved and identifying persons involved for enforcement options. The last few years have shown that the issue is not about the lone rural rouge taking one for his larder, there are those who are taking deer, fish and livestock which inevitably end up in the food chain be it via restaurants, hotels or via a meat supplier. Some of these people are organised, are in it for financial gain and are linked to other types of criminality.

“Any business, including a hunter supplying food, whether for profit or not, has a legal obligation to ensure it is fit to eat. A number of potential health risks are associated with the consumption of wild venison caused by diseases such as Tuberculosis and E.coli. Faecal and environmental contamination can also occur as a result of unhygienic processing by persons operating outside of their legal obligations. Therefore all regulatory controls, including traceability of the product must be observed. As a bare minimum, registration with the Local Authority is required, this will help to prevent illegal venison entering the food chain.

“From the Police perspective we wish to reduce rural crime and protect those vulnerable in our rural locations. We have heard of poachers trespassing and then shooting or using dogs to take deer, threatening landowners and post incidents finding damage or thefts. By working together we are looking beyond where the Police have traditionally looked to stop this crime occurring. Ultimately the poacher is making a financial gain somewhere and this is where we will be looking next.

“We have already asked for the public to report poaching when it is happening and when they find it has happened on their land. We now want people to have a simple opportunity to Turn in Poachers and give us a TIP on who, what, where, when and how by phoning Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. We also want to know where this meat is going, where it is being butchered and stored, who is buying it and where it is being sold. The call is free, no one will know who you are and it won’t show up on your BT or cable phone bill. In some circumstances you may be entitled to a cash reward. If you want to help tackle crime in your community there is no excuse.”

Crime Stoppers 'Stop Poaching' Campaign Poster