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Working in partnership with rural communities in general, and the farming community in particular, Durham Constabulary has achieved significant reductions in rural crime in recent years.

The Ruralwatch scheme has helped to deter criminals as they know these schemes increase the chances of them being caught. However, while Durham is one of the safest counties to live work and visit, that doesn't mean we have no crime, as some farms and businesses could testify. We all need to remain vigilant and be prepared to report suspicious activity immediately, if we are to keep crime low.


Farmers and other people living in rural communities can join the constabulary’s successful Ruralwatch scheme, which is a network designed to share crime prevention advice, alert local residents to crimes in their area and appeal for information to catch criminals. Statistics have shown that members of Ruralwatch who have used property marking products on valuable property and displayed signs at the entrance to their premises are less likely than non-members in the farming community to be a victim of crime.

Remember that we would never encourage you to put yourself at risk, but to observe, make a note of descriptive details vehicle registrations and phone the police.

Should you wish to become a member of Ruralwatch, please contact your local Ruralwatch coordinator in your area by contact telephone number 101.

What is wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime may take many forms from persons shooting at wildlife in nature reserves to the more organised crimes of badger baiting and the trade in endangered species.

With large populations of wild birds, animals and plants, many of which are protected by law, we need to protect species from persecution and hold those individuals accountable for their misguided actions when they break the law.
Durham Constabulary aims to provide a professional, effective and timely response to wildlife crime through developing and maintaining active working partnerships with local and national wildlife organisations in order to reduce, prevent and issue enforcement regarding wildlife persecution and together raise awareness of wildlife crime and environmental issues.

Law enforcement 

Durham Constabulary are responsible for enforcing the law in relation to: 

  • Illegal trade in endangered species
  • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing wild birds
  • Taking, possessing, destroying wild birds eggs/nest disturbance
  • Badger persecution
  • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing wild bats
  • Illegal snaring of wild animals
  • Illegal hunting of wild mammals
  • Damaging protected sites
  • Illegal poisoning of wildlife
  • Disturbing cetaceans
  • Stealing wild plants
  • Illegal hunting and poaching

Wildlife in County Durham and Darlington

County Durham is a large rural county which incorporates the North Pennines, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Teesdale and Weardale have the most diverse range of environments and habitats ranging from wetlands to hill and moorland areas, but we also have coastal areas surrounding Seaham and Peterlee.
We are lucky to have wildlife which live and breed successfully and which does not exist in other parts of the country including marsh harriers, black grouse and lapwing.
As a rural county issues reported regularly by the community are in relation to poaching of deer and other animals, offences against badgers and the disturbance of wildlife.
All wildlife crime can be difficult to prevent and investigate as it quite often takes place out of sight of the public view but when intelligence and information is received these offences can be investigated.

How to report a wildlife crime

Incidents should be reported as you would any other crime by calling Durham Constabulary on 101 or in an emergency 999.

If you would like to discuss an issue relating to wildlife crime please use the non emergency number 101.

National Rural Crime Network

The National Rural Crime Network champions a better understanding of crime in rural areas, and new, effective ways to help to keep rural communities safer to learn more please visit:

Security advice and tips

Farm and outbuildings

  • Restrict access to your farm land & property with locked gates
  • Ensure your home, farm & outbuildings are secure. Use British Standard locks & high security closed-shackle padlocks
  • Consider fitting intruder alarms, CCTV & good outside security lighting, check regularly to ensure they work
  • Lock windows & doors, remove keys from locks & keep out of visible reach
  • Mark equipment & property with farm name & postcode, use a UV pen, engraving, stamping, tagging or forensic marking
  • Hide valuable items from view & secure them in locked outbuildings
  • Consider joining your local Ruralwatch scheme

Vehicles, trailers & quad bikes

  • Secure & immobilise vehicles & equipment when not in use
  • Remove keys from the ignition & keep them somewhere secure
  • Don’t leave quad bikes or trailers unattended
  • Consider storing vehicles & property in a secured building, if possible secured to the ground or wall, or inside a caged area
  • Mark trailers & property with farm name & postcode, use a UV pen, engraving, stamping, tagging or forensic marking

General advice

  • Where possible install fuel tanks within secure buildings or cages made from a material resistant to attack
  • Thieves may stake-out your property in advance by making up an excuse to call round. Try to take a note of their registration number, & report the incident to police
  • Never advertise that you are away by leaving notes for tradesmen or delivery drivers
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance cover
  • Keep up to date on crime trends by joining Ruralwatch
  • When you are away, ask neighbours and friends to keep an eye on your property and be prepared to do the same for them
  • Take down registration numbers of suspicious vehicles and report suspicious activity to police immediately

More information