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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 Rural Watch 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.

Weardale and Teesdale Rural Watch

The Weardale and Teesdale Rural Watch group comprises of representatives from Farm Watch, Neighbourhood Watch, WhatsApps alliances and Community spirited individuals in the area and co-ordinated by a Board of Rural Watch Trustees.

Our overarching aim is to Reduce and Prevent Crime by supporting each other and reinforcing our community spirit. In doing so we:

  • Will act as a critical friend to Durham Police by providing information, support, encouragement, constructive and candid feedback.
  • Will help design and deliver procedures and products to tackle crime and unsocial behaviour.
  • Will promote and provide advice to reduce and prevent crime.
  • Will work in partnership with groups, agencies and organisations to reinforce and sustain community spirit and safety.
  • Will collect and share intelligence with police and hold regular liaison meetings and operations.
  • Will be vigilant and alert members of any threats using early warning systems in our community and neighbouring communities.
  • Will offer support to victims of crime.

Join Rural Watch

If you live, work or visit rural communities you are our eyes and ears. You can help by joining our network of people who are dedicated to making our community safe to live and work in.

Together we can actively take steps to prevent crime, report suspicious incidents and provide education and reassurance on the issues that matter the most to rural communities.

Rural Watch is a free scheme set up to support communities in the fight against rural crime. We rely upon donations and grants to finance the numerous initiatives so any donation large or small is welcome.

To become a member of the scheme please email chairman Clement O'Donovan at or PCSO Liz Finn at with the following information:

  • name
  • address
  • contact telephone details
  • email address

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