THE Rural Affairs Unit of Avon and Somerset police has invested in a dedicated drone to help prevent and detect rural crime, including wildlife crime such as hare coursing.
The unit has recently undergone training to operate the drone, which will use thermal imaging to track offenders in isolated areas after dark.
A police spokesperson said: “Hare coursing, which involves setting dogs to chase hares, often takes place on land that has been entered illegally and can cause considerable harm to property, crops and livestock.
“The practice was banned in the UK by the Hunting Act 2004 but illegal activity remains prevalent, particularly following the August harvest and during the autumn months.”
Somerset Area Commander Dickon Turner added: “We know that many instances of hare coursing and other rural crimes go unreported as landowners believe they won’t be taken seriously.
“But we’re aware of the devastating effects of these offences, and the fact they are often linked to wider organised crime. That’s why we are urging victims to come forward.
“Our investment in new technology is giving us far greater capability to catch offenders, but we can only do this when suspicious activity is reported to us.
“We’re hopeful that the drone will further strengthen our links with our rural communities, enhance our capability to prevent crime and build a clearer picture of organised crime groups’ activities.”
The new drone will also play a key role in crime prevention, allowing the unit to offer surveys to repeat victims of rural crime to identify potential areas of weakness on their land which may make them a target for criminals.
More advice on protecting rural property can be found at: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/protecting-your-home-and-property/protecting-rural