AGENCIES across Somerset and Devon have formed a new group to fight rural crime.

The rise in deer poaching has been a particular concern on Exmoor National Park.

Avon and Somerset Police, Devon and Cornwall Police, the park authority, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, the Crown Estate, the River Exe Tributaries Association, the Forestry Commission and the National Wildlife Crime Unit have all formed the Exmoor Rural Crime Initiative and will work together to prevent illegal practices on Exmoor.

Richard Eales, ranger, said: “The purpose is to have a partnership approach in dealing with all aspects of rural crime in the greater Exmoor area.

“While this is a joint agency initiative I'd encourage the community to report all crime, including wildlife crime, directly to the police.”

The group's three main objectives are the prevention of deer and fish poaching, prevention of illegal off-road driving, and raising awareness and education on crime.

Sgt Any Whysall, of the police, said: “The group's timely formation fits in with the National Wildlife Crime Unit's Project Trespass, which will assist in achieving the objectives of the group, and will look to be particularly active in the autumn when the majority of the deer and fish poaching takes place.”

Crime should be reported by calling 101 or visiting police websites.

Always call 999 if a crime is in progress or there is a risk to a person or property.