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 Rural criminals warned to stay out of County Durham and Darlington


​Police are warning rural criminals to stay out of Darlington and County Durham as officers begin specific rural patrols in high crime areas.

Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of people visiting the region’s countryside to enjoy the landscapes and local wildlife.

While the majority of people have acted sensibly and responsibly, a small minority have used the opportunity to commit crime.

Incidents have included waste being dumped on farmers’ land, suspects accessing their land to seal quadbikes and other machinery, gates being left open or damaged which allows livestock to escape, as well as having crops damaged after being driven over or set alight.

To tackle rural crime, officers will now be carrying out specific rural patrols in high crime areas.

Figures from the National Farmers Union Mutual (NFU) show County Durham and Darlington experienced a 23% reduction in rural crime in 2019 – one of the biggest in the UK.

PCSO Andy Cusick, rural crime lead at Darlington Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “We are pleased that our force area saw one of the biggest reductions in rural crime in the UK last year.

“However, we have not become complacent. Rural crime is still a key priority for us and we continue to take this type of criminality very seriously and will deal with offenders appropriately.”

He added: “We are also entering a particularly important time for rural communities, as between August and February we tend to see an increase in poaching.

“Poachers normally hunt brown hares or deer, travel in groups with dogs, and use 4x4 vehicles which are often untaxed and uninsured. 

“Their actions not only result in death and injury to animals, but cause further damage to land, gates, fences and hedgerows.

“This type of criminality will not be tolerated and we are working closely with Darlington Borough Council and local Farmwatch groups to share information and intelligence, as well as with neighbouring forces.

“If our rural community see something suspicious, please report it. Likewise, if you see, or know, where vehicles or quads that are used in crime are stored or who owns them, then please contact us.

“Your information may prevent a farmer or landowner from falling victim to crime.”

If you have any information that may help us crack down on rural crime, then call Durham Constabulary on 101, or email the Darlington neighbourhood team on