Around 130 farmers, landowners and rural residents attended a community meeting to discuss incidents of illegal sheep butchery.
Organised by Northamptonshire Police and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the event was held yesterday, Wednesday, July 17, at Lodge Farm in Thornby.
In the past 12 days the force has received reports of at least five incidents of illegal butchery across the county, and is aware of incidents in neighbouring force areas as well. NFU estimates suggest that more than 100 sheep have been illegally slaughtered in Northamptonshire since March.
Attendees were brought up to date on how the investigation into the crimes is being organised and run, and were able to ask questions and raise concerns with officers and NFU representatives.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Sam Dobbs, who addressed the meeting on behalf of Northamptonshire Police, said: “It was great to see this meeting so well attended, and the turnout shows the scale of interest in the problem.
“I hope that explaining how our investigation is structured has provided further reassurance to the community about how seriously we’re taking these crimes, and we’re aware that there is a lot of speculation about who is responsible.
“The force remains open-minded about what is happening and why, and we continue to appeal for anyone who sees or hears anything which could be relevant to get in touch with us by calling 101, or 999 if you believe a crime is in progress, quoting Operation Stock.”
Sgt Dobbs said farmers and landowners would be encouraged to keep an eye on stock overnight, but urged anyone patrolling their land to do so safely and responsibly, and to call police if required.
He added his thanks to the farmer who hosted the event, the NFU and to those who attended, including wildlife-trained officers and the force’s Rural Crime Team.
Harriet Ransom, NFU county advisor for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland, added: “That more than 100 people came to this meeting at the start of harvest on a clear day shows the impact that these crimes are having on the farming community. The concerns around animal welfare are huge, and families living on farms are also naturally concerned about possible risk to themselves as well.
“The NFU is very grateful to Northamptonshire Police for its quick reaction to these crimes, and we appreciate that the force has a dedicated Rural Crime Team, which is something we’d like to see replicated in forces across the country.”
Call Northamptonshire Police on 101 to report non-emergency crime or suspicious activity, or dial 999 in an emergency, such as a crime in progress, quoting Operation Stock.