Man arrested following spate of illegal sheep butchery across Warwickshire and neighbouring counties

File image.
File image.

Northamptonshire Police have arrested a man as part of its investigation into a spate of illegal sheep butchery plaguing Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

On the July 24 a 40-year-old Hampshire man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and theft before being released under investigation.

The arrest was made as part of Operation Stock - launched after Northamptonshire Police began receiving reports of illegal slaughter in the county earlier this month.

Detective Inspector Johnny Campbell of Northampton CID, the senior investigating officer for Operation Stock, said: “We’re taking this fast-moving investigation very seriously with a dedicated team following a number of lines of inquiry into these awful crimes."

More than 100 sheep illegally butchered in Warwickshire this year

In Warwickshire, since the beginning of the year, 103 sheep have been reported butchered in fields and 74 sheep have been reported stolen from farms.

Warwickshire Police responded in March by launching Operation Hillman and it has sharing intelligence and information with neighbouring forces in its effort to tackle the spate of illegal butchery.

On April 16 Warwickshire Police arrested a 21-year-old man in Rugby who had a dead sheep in his car.

And, thanks to the vigilance of farmers and the public there have been several reports where offenders have been disturbed.

But the problem persists in Warwickshire - with the latest incident being the slaughter and illegal butchering of 24 sheep in a field near Harborough Magna between the evening of Tuesday July 16 and Wednesday morning July 17.

Police say 'everything is being done' to catch those responsible

Responding to the latest incident in Harborough Magna, Rural Crime Inspector Allison Wiggins said: "We have from the beginning of the incidents been working with colleagues in neighbouring forces who have experienced similar incidents, sharing best practice, intelligence and information.

"We would like to reassure the rural community that since the incidents occurred in March, Warwickshire Police put in place Operation Hillman with procedures to ensure incidents are followed up and all means of enquiry followed through.

"All relevant staff are briefed and proactive actions taken where possible.

"The investigation and operation is ongoing and everything is being done to catch the offenders.

"The importance of communities to be vigilant, report anything suspicious in or near fields of livestock cannot be underestimated.

"Thank you to those that have done so already, it has been a great help."

The meat could be dangerous to eat

Police are also appealing for information on where this meat may be going to, any suspicious circumstances or information of concern to the traceability of meat in any communities.

Theft and illegal butchery of sheep is a serious offence, which causes suffering to the animals, financial repercussions to farmers, plus puts at risk people's health if they eat the meat as the sheep may have medication in their system.

How you can help

The Rugby Advertiser met with police and members of the farming community in April to learn more about the problem and find out how members of the public can help.

The video featured at the top of this story was taken during that meeting, and you can click here to read the full story.

Any suspicious activity should be reported by calling 101.

Information can also be emailed to northwarksruralAlerts@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk in confidence or via Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.