18 January 2015
Police Advice for Countryside walkers.
After several complaints about walkers from local farmers and for that matter complaints about farmer’s attitudes to walkers, I find myself penning this article.
Over recent years the area has grown in popularity and attracted many new residents to Hook. I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate the responsibilities of all parties.
The fields and land we can walk upon in the area pass through many farms. Lovely though they are these farms are here to run as businesses. As such the only paths to be used by walkers are those marked up as official routes. If in doubt an ordnance survey map is the definitive guide to open paths. The Parish Council and Hampshire County Council can also provide details of official paths.
When walking these routes please also control your children and dogs. It may be the correct path but all routes have a limited width not normally over 1.5 metres wide. Straying further than this is the same as not using the official path and causes damage to crops. Crops may not also be what you see as a standard crop such as wheat or barley but can also be of grass for other uses.
Please also use the gates and stiles provided remembering to close the gate having gone through it. Also clear up as you go with regards litter and dog fouling.
In return for the responsible use of the land and footpaths the land owner or farmer also has certain responsibilities.
Footpaths need to be kept clear and maintained to give access to the public. Any not maintained as such can be reported to the Parish Council for it to be investigated through the correct channels. Enforcement action can be taken in extreme cases but rarely needs to go this far.
Police action and support.
Although trespass is a civil offence, we the Police can assist both parties over issues of footpaths in the following ways. If walkers fail to stick to the correct routes they potentially cause damage to the area including fencing, signs and crops. This is criminal damage and an offence for which we can arrest.
Also any threats against walkers made by farmers can also become offences but please bear in mind that you must be on the correct path as this can affect any threat issues, another reason for only using the official paths.
The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales, aiming to help everyone respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors.
At the end of the day we all wish to enjoy the area we have the privilege to live and work in. The Police will expect the good use of common sense and sound judgement when enjoying the countryside and take on board the advice for the benefit for all parties involved.
Further advice can be found in the Countryside Code – a link to the website is:
Thank you for taking the time to read this advice
PC 20906 Franks
Hart Neighbourhood Centre
Hook RG27 9DJ
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