|Dorset Police Rural Crime Team are asking that anyone connected with game shooting be very vigilant as the season approaches.|
After a recent incidents this year across the country where large numbers of pheasants were released from laying or rearing pens.
If you’re a game keeper, shoot captain or shoot owner then please consider the following advice which could help to prevent you from becoming a victim of this type of crime and ensuring you have measures in place should activists arrive on a shoot day.
Leading Up To Shoot Days
- Ask your estate and farm colleagues to keep a look out for anyone acting suspicious however minor they may seem. Information needs to be reported to Dorset Police. If there’s any vehicles that look out of place then worth making a note of the registrations and passing it onto Dorset Police as soon as possible. You can report easily by calling 101, emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org or online at Dorset Police website at the ‘Do It Online’ section here https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/make-an-enquiry-online/ . If you wish to remain anonymous you can call Rural Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 783 0137 or by visiting www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk
- Ensure that pens and hoppers are kept out of sight. Ideally don’t have them near roads even if the roads are used infrequently. If you have to have these near roads consider painting or camouflaging hoppers. If you have partridge release pens in cover crops consider sighting these away from roads, public footpaths or open access areas.
- When poults or chicks are delivered, consider where they’ll be placed. If so then consider covering access points to the release or laying pens with remote overt/covert CCTV. Also consider PIR alarms to detect movement around the pens. There’s a lot of good security solutions on the market that can send an alert straight to your mobile phone.
- If it’s not feasible to install ‘wired’ CCTV then consider battery powered trail cameras but also worth looking at CCTV signs which act as a deterrent. If you install trail cameras then make sure they are put up high so they can’t be easily reached.
- Check your security arrangements. Secure your land and ensure gates/barriers are kept locked at all times. Again, consider security solutions at these access points.
- Share information with other local keepers and estate or farm staff. Set up a social media group such as Facebook closed group or what’s app group and only add trusted people to this.
- If you would like further advice on protecting your rural business, estate or farm and would like a visit from one of the team to offer rural crime prevention advice please send an email to the team at email@example.com
- If your shoot is in a remote area then it’s worth making a note of the drive meeting points with grid references and having this to hand should you need this in the event of an emergency. Consider using Google Maps or Ordnance Survey maps to locate these.
- Also worth thinking about purchasing body worn video (body cams.) You can buy good quality ones for approx. £100 - £150. Well worth the money for your protection/evidence gathering.
On a Shoot Day
Shoot Day Disruption by Activists
- When you meet on the morning of a shoot day with guns, beaters and the picking up team, please make sure that everyone attending the shoot is briefed as to what to do if activists arrive during a drive.
- Make sure all shoot participants Guns, Beaters and Picking up staff are all aware of the Police numbers 999/101 and what info will be required from them if they call Police.
- Make sure that during a drive. During briefings or at break times of the shooting day all vehicles must be kept in sight especially if dogs/guns are left in there. If you need to keep a window open for your dog then make sure you keep an eye on your vehicle at all times. Dog theft is on the rise, especially trained gundogs. Make sure no weapons/ammunition/dogs are left in the vehicle when unattended or parked in an isolated location.
- Make sure as many people as possible in the group have a fully charged mobile phone that can record video and has a built in camera. Team radios are also good to make others aware of activist’s presence around the shoot area.
- It’s also recommended that people within the group carry a notebook and pen/pencil for recording evidence. Always good to have these as back-ups in case mobiles don’t work/run out of power/get wet/broken.
- This is where a set procedure should be carried out to stop a drive by whoever is in charge be it the keeper or shoot captain or landowner.
- Dorset Police recommend the following:
- All firearms must be unloaded, placed in their slips and kept with the owner AT ALL TIMES. Dogs should be put on leads. Demonstrators have been known to aggravate the dogs.
- Everyone in the group should congregate at a designated place as identified by the keeper/shoot captain.
- The group should avoid any confrontation with the demonstrators who will be looking to provoke a reaction.
- Members of the group can start to record what the demonstrators’ are doing/saying. Ideally this can be done on mobile phones/body worn video or note books.
- If you are recording on body worn video/mobile phones then you need to make the demonstrators aware by saying “I’M RECORDING SOUND AND VISION FOR EVIDENCE PURPOSES.”
- Whoever is in charge should speak to the demonstrators’ and make them aware that they’re on private land and that you want them to leave.
- If they don’t leave and are being obstructive/abusive then you need to phone the police.
- DIAL 999 – Call this number if the demonstrators are threatening physical violence or are causing criminal damage.
- DIAL 101 (non-emergency) – Call this number if the demonstrators are NOT threatening anyone and not causing any criminal damage but you feel that the situation is/could escalate.
Call handler questions – you will be asked the following questions:
- Your full name and location? Knowing the grid ref/postcode helps.
- Describe exactly what is happening?
- How many demonstrators’ are there/descriptions of people/age/sex? What are they doing? Any vehicle registrations?
- Make them aware that you have video/photo/bodycam evidence.
- You will then be given a Police log number and told that officers are on route to your location.
- Do NOT engage with the demonstrators when waiting on Police arrival.
- When officers arrive fully brief them on what’s happened and again make them aware that you have video footage of any wrongdoing by the demonstrators. Point out the main offenders and what they’ve done.
Q&A about Body Worn Video (BWV)
Is the use of BWV covered by the Data Protection Act?
Yes. This is under the Data Protection Act 2018 which states that the BWV holder has a legal obligation to make people aware that he/she are recording. Dorset Police recommend saying “I’M RECORDING SOUND AND VISION FOR EVIDENTIAL PURPOSES” as soon as possible. Preferable before any issues start to escalate.
What can be recorded and what should not be recorded?
Only incident specific recording should be made for evidence.
Do we need to inform people we are using BWV?
It’s important to inform people that BWV equipment is being used. There are various ways to inform the subjects that they are being recorded, including verbally at the time they are being recorded or, if this is not practicable because of an ongoing incident, as soon as possible afterwards.
Social Media Groups
The other thing Police recommend is social media groups where you can instantly keep in communication with others within the group. Very good for making others aware of any suspicious activity around where you live. This can be through WhatsApp or Facebook.
Use of Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool however be aware of the risks of posting anything online which could assist those opposed to your business locate sites e.g. Photos, Google map pins (Meta data) and any comments which could be used against your business which creates a bad impression. Remember what you post online even in shooting related groups can be seen by other who maybe against shooting.
Refer to the Code of Good Shooting Practice. Activist behaviour has seen to use hidden cameras which footage can later be edited and used selectively to highlight bad practice or to manufacture an impression of bad behaviour. The Code can be downloaded by visiting: http://www.codeofgoodshootingpractice.org.uk/
Removing Your Business from Google Maps
Step by step guide to removing your business from Google Maps:
1. Go to Google maps
2. Search your business name
3. Click on your business name and below that click “claim your business”
4. Go through the step by step process removing any personal data which you can e.g. telephone numbers and business type e.g. instead of dairy farm you could put agricultural holding
5. Once logged on and that process is complete go to the top left hand corner and click the three horizontal lines which will bring up a menu
6. Click on “information”
7. Scroll down and edit any personal information, making sure you remove it if you do not want it displayed, you can also edit your business name or leave it blank “…”
8. Scroll down to the bottom and click “mark as permanently closed”
If you are a Farm or Horse watch member and would like a farm or horse watch sign please contact the rural crime team by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they would be happy to dispatch some signs to you.
Dorset Police Rural Crime Team use Facebook and Twitter which we are very active on and do use this as a good medium to send out alerts and crime prevention messages on.
Facebook: @DorsetPoliceRuralCrimeTeam https://www.facebook.com/DorsetPoliceRuralCrimeTeam
Twitter: @RuralCrimeTeam https://twitter.com/RuralCrimeTeam