A farmer told how his fields became a 'playground for the most barbaric and pointless crimes' as poachers targeted his animals.

The farmer, who wants to remain anonymous, said he wanted to speak out about poaching – as he urged people to report suspicious activity in the countryside.

Working with his neighbours and the police he has managed to help crack down on countryside criminals by reporting incidents and taking crime prevention measures.

Poaching and crimes that are linked to it have a significant impact on rural communities and businesses, police say.

Twenty-first century poaching is not ‘one for the pot’ – but a hobby carried out by organised criminals who are often well known to police for burglary and theft.

The farmer said: "The modern day ‘poacher' is not in the pursuit to feed their family.

"They used to drive across my crops night after night, destroying hedges, destroying gates and anything else that came into their path.They did so under the cover of darkness, their acts shielded by the remoteness of the farm.

"My fields had become a playground for the most barbaric and pointless crimes where they would film their activities, sharing them live to others who would be betting on the outcome – what dog will get the kill? How long will it take? Who will get the deer with the biggest antlers?"

He added: "It wasn’t just about the economic loss. It was truly barbaric how some of these animals were killed. When it was at its worse, in my frustration, I blamed the authorities and felt helpless."

The farmer said he turned to he police for help and worked with officers from Dorset's Rural Crime Team.

"Together we discussed a plan where we could both work together to stop this. I learnt what to look for, what to use to gather evidence and what crime preventative measures I could put in place," he said.

The farmer said it's a problem which can't be solved alone so as well as working with the police he informed neighbours.

"Very quickly a positive momentum picked up in my area and together land managers, land owners, farm staff, game keepers and other rural businesses were reporting suspicious vehicles and anything related to rural crime in the area. Together we are working together for a better and safer future."

The farmer added: "Everyone has a part to play and whilst it was not obvious to me at the start, I soon learnt it was me, and others like me, whilst working with the police that could make the difference. If you are a victim of rural crime then report it, no matter how irrelevant you might think it is, it could just be the missing piece of a bigger puzzle.”

To report poaching in progress ring 999. To report something suspicious happening at the time ring 101. To report non emergency matters email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk