by Mo Metcalf Fisher

Further reports have emerged of illegal slaughtering of sheep at a farm in Northamptonshire.

The incident took place on Friday August 30th in a field situated between Duston and Harpole in the East Midlands county.

The farmer, Patrick Green, woke to find to find the remains of at least 25 lambs and New Zealand Suffolk x Mule breeding ewes.

This incident is being treated as part of Operation Stock, which Northamptonshire Police have launched following numerous incidents in the county. Drones have formed part of the search for criminals.

More than 81 lambs and sheep have been slaughtered illegally, with 258 being stolen since February of this year.

The Countryside Alliance views the spate of incidents as an epidemic and support efforts by the police to catch the perpetrators, while they also work to ensure farmers remain vigilant and take precautions to protect their livestock.

According to the BBC, Northamptonshire Police believe that the animals killed are slaughtered in the field and then sold illegally to restaurants and shops. Trading standards and environmental officers have joined in on the search.

Sam Dobbs, District Neighbourhood Sergeant of the Daventry District told the Countryside Alliance “ This spate of crimes has appalled the community – rural or not. To the farming community and members of the Countryside Alliance, it is more than the criminal damage and theft which each of these crimes is recorded as. It is the abuse of cared-for and tended livestock, without any regard for the animal or the person who finds what is left of it. It is the effect it has on farmers whose working environment is their home too. It is an incursion into their life and peace. It shows utter disregard for the well-regulated farming and meat industry. It pays little regard for human wellbeing as it places meat into the food chain which ordinarily wouldn’t be allowed. It has created an unprecedented level of disgust, concern and interest. I would want Countryside Alliance members to be aware of our efforts in terms of the investigation, prevention/ & reassurance and our resolve to do whatever is humanly possible to stop this abomination of animals in our countryside." 

Signs reminding rural residents to report suspicious activity to police following incidents of illegal sheep butchery have been distributed to farmers and landowners.

PCSO Les Conopo, dedicated PCSO for Crick and Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal, is one of the officers helping to distribute the signs to the farming community.

He said: “The idea behind the signs is to raise awareness of the issue, encourage the reporting of suspicious activity, and to show potential offenders that both residents and police are keeping a close eye on what is happening in our rural communities.

“The signs have been really well received, and we’re grateful for the continued information our communities are providing as we work to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.”

The warning signs have been produced thanks to funding from the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

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One of the signs being distributed throughout the Northamptonshire countryside which have been funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner

Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I met with the NFU and heard very clearly just how much concern these horrible crimes are causing to the local community. 

“I am happy to support initiatives from our local policing teams who are not only working hard to disrupt and deter the criminals involved but also working with partners to try to ensure that our rural residents have their concerns taken seriously and feel safe.”

Officers from the force’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Rural Crime Team, CID and forensic investigation teams are working on Operation Stock, with dedicated rural patrols and community reassurance continuing as well.

The National Farmers Union have said: “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.”

A 40-year-old Hampshire man arrested on July 24 on suspicion of criminal damage and theft as part of the investigation remains released under investigation.

Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said “These sickening acts require a robust response. The criminals committing these crimes are doing so with no regard whatsoever for the damage they are doing to farming communities. This is clearly now epidemic within Northamptonshire and its right that Northamptonshire Police are treating this matter extremely seriously. I urge all Countryside Alliance members living in Northamptonshire as well as the wider rural community there to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour immediately”

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Farmer Patrick Green shown with the remains of some of the slaughtered sheep (Photo: Northamptonshire Police)

Anyone who sees anything suspicious is urged to call police on 101 quoting Operation Stock, or 999 in an emergency.

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