INCIDENTS of livestock worrying increased in Devon and Cornwall throughout May, according to police.

They are reminding the public to keep dogs on leads when visiting Devon and Cornwall’s open spaces this summer.

Livestock worrying is when a dog attacks or chases livestock, it is a criminal offence and can have a devastating impact on livestock, farmers and in some circumstances the dog and the owner.

Rural Affairs Officer for Devon and Cornwall Police PC Chris Collins said: "We are hoping that by encouraging people to respect our countryside and communities we can also ensure responsible dog ownership and remind people of the law.

“All land is owned, and access is not a given right, so it is important that users of the countryside understand specific designations of land and ‘rights of way’. For example, on land which is designated as ‘access land’ a dog must be on a lead between March 1 and July 31 and at all times when livestock are present.

“Allowing dogs to chase or attack livestock is a criminal offence. Take notice of local signage, respect wildlife and any livestock around you, keeping your dog on a lead to protect livestock and ground nesting birds.

“If you witness an attack on livestock, do not intervene, keep yourself safe and call 999. All other information relating to attacks on livestock should be reported to the police online or by calling 101.”