Sussex Police ask the public to respect the countryside

People are being urged to respect the countryside while out exercising in Sussex.

Sussex Police’s rural crime team said there have been cases of sheep worrying, damage to stock fencing and removal of signs put up by landowners over the weekend.

As a result, the team is increasing patrols in rural areas and beauty spots which are proving popular with people looking to take their daily exercise during the third national lockdown.

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John Wheatland, a farmer with land behind Battle Abbey, said some of his fences were deliberately cut.

Photo by Sussex Police SUS-210119-132558001

He said, “It is a constant worry for me. My cows and calves get out onto public land and I have to get there as quickly as possible to get them back onto my land.”

Inspector Andrea Leahy, from the RCT, said, “We appreciate that the public want to enjoy the beautiful rural areas in Sussex but we are asking them to please respect the rules of the countryside.

“If you are walking your dog in the countryside and are unfamiliar with the area always keep your dog on the lead as there could be sheep and cattle nearby that you aren’t aware of it.

“We have had several incidents of sheep worrying reported to us already this year across the county including at Steyning, Hassocks, Pett Level, Burwash and Funtington.

“Sheep worrying is an offence and you could be liable for prosecution and heavy financial penalties if your dog is involved in an incident of this type.”

The RCT says people should always plan their routes and abide by rules and signs.

Inspector Leahy said, “Farmers work hard to maintain their boundaries to ensure their animals remain enclosed and safe. Cutting fencing is criminal damage and the rural crime team will take action.

“Also if you arrive at a beauty spot or rural area and it is busy with other people, please leave the area and find a quieter area to exercise.”

The RTC says there are a number of published footpaths which can be found using websites such as These footpaths include the appropriate access routes using either gates or styles.

Anyone who witnesses such incidents can report online or ring 101.

If you wish to contact the Rural Crime Team please email [email protected]