MORE than 100 people attended a meeting to discuss rural matters in the Basingstoke, Winchester and Hart districts last week.

On Friday, January 12, residents were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and discuss ongoing issues in the area during the event at the Candover Valley Club in Brown Candover.

A number of matters were discussed at the meeting, including the recent rise we have seen in trespass and poaching offences.

Because the event was so well attended, officers will be looking to host a similar meeting in the upcoming months.

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Basingstoke Gazette: PS Martyn Evans speaking at the event

Basingstoke Rural Police Sergeant Martyn Evans said: “I would like to thank everyone for attending the meeting on Friday.

“More than 100 people were in attendance and so many people were willing to speak so passionately about rural issues they are facing. This gives me huge confidence in just how supportive the local community are.

“Our officers take rural crime very seriously, as the impacts on the livelihoods of those affected can be devastating.

“But I want to stress that we are committed to solving the issues that you face and our teams are in this for the long term.

“We will be demonstrating flexibility within the team to meet the needs of the community, meaning duty time changes so that we are in the right place at the right time in the hope of stopping these offences, which I know are taking a great toll on everyone.

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“The use of technology is also at the forefront of how we will be taking on these criminals. With the use of drones, thermal cameras and other items at our disposal, our officers have the tools to relentlessly pursue rural criminals, and I anticipate positive outcomes will follow.”

Mr Evans added: “What I ask of you is that if it does not feel right, it usually is not, so please report it.

“If it is a live poaching incident, dial 999 and tell the operator that you would like to report an ‘Operation Galileo offence’.

“Never place yourself in harm’s way. If there is a break in to property or an immediate threat to individual or public safety you must dial 999. Try your best to put yourself in a position of safety, observe and update the call taker.

“We are more determined than ever to arrest, prosecute and make life as uncomfortable as possible for those trying to blight the rural community.”