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Locals may ‘take law into own hands’ over poaching

Landowners in North Yorkshire say a huge increase in deer poaching is being ignored by local police, with the owner of one well-known shoot admitting that local farmers are even considering acting as law enforcers themselves in an effort to control night-time trespass.

Derek Cornforth, of Long Plain Farm, Hambleton, near Thirsk, said: “The police don’t seem to understand the needs of the rural community. We make repeated calls to them but get a half-hearted response. We’ve even suggested to the chief constable that we ought to take the law into our own hands to protect our property.”

For the past 10 years, Mr Cornforth has overseen a programme of fencing, hedge planting and ditch-digging in an attempt to reduce unlawful activity on his property.

“The people who are unlawfully gaining access to our land have a wider criminal intent,” he said.

“Our biggest fear is that, unless we get effective rural policing, this situation will escalate and a rise in more serious crimes is inevitable.”

Gamekeepers in the area are now undertaking regular night-time patrols and provide the authorities with the registration details of suspicious vehicles.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “Police are aware of the problems with poachers and trespassing near Thirsk. Rural crime is a priority for us and we are doing all we can to address the problems. We welcome the information provided by local people and encourage them to continue to provide us with this valuable intelligence.”