WHILE town centre drug raids, robberies and assaults make the headlines, a different type of crime is being busted in East Lancashire’s countryside.

Police are cracking down on poachers who hunt animals with dogs, causing misery and suffering. The problem cost Lancashire £1.3m in 2012 and has many more implications.

People who buy meat on the black market could be risking their health if it has been handled unhygienically. It could be contaminated by veterinary drugs or even pass on unpleasant diseases.

Rural residents are being urged to continue making security a priority on their farms, businesses and homes, deterring both organised gangs and opportunist thieves as much as possible.

And a messaging service called In The Know has already been successful, with 500 people signed up to receive information and appeals.

Anyone enjoying the countryside in their leisure time can do their bit by reporting any suspicious activity. And we can all help by refusing temptation if offered a cheap piece of meat – because it could leave you with more problems than you bargained for.

Those responsible should take heed of the fact that poachers are being hauled before the courts and hit with hefty fines.