FRESH tactics are being used by police to clamp down on rural crime.
Hampshire Police has launched Operation Osprey with the introduction of a dedicated task force to investigate crime in the countryside.
A new initiative has been launched to tackle people who use dogs to poach in rural areas.
Officers can seize dogs suspected of being used in poaching or hare coursing activity.
The hounds are seized as evidence and retained by the police while offences are investigated.
A number of dogs have already been seized and cases are currently going through the court process.
Officers are also using ‘police trap’ vehicles to snare criminals.
The cars are unmarked and fitted with surveillance equipment which is activated if the vehicle is broken into.
Chief Superintendent Jason Hogg, the force’s strategic lead on rural policing, said: ‘We are determined to not only target those who commit these crimes but reduce opportunities for crime to take place and make it a hostile environment for travelling criminals.
‘We will use the full range of tactics available to us to target and disrupt individuals and groups who clearly demonstrate a propensity for criminality and target vulnerable areas.’
He added that rural communities were the police’s ‘eyes and ears’ and encouraged them to report suspicious activity.