A NEW scheme which aims to encourage dog walkers to report suspicious activity has been launched in Hampshire.

Dog Watch is being piloted in the New Forest with a view to rolling it out across the rest of the county later this year.

The scheme invites dog walkers to be proactive and vigilant while exercising their pet.

Police are hoping the launch of Dog Watch will result in more people reporting suspicious activity, plus incidents of graffiti, fly-tipping, vandalism and hare coursing.

The New Forest is one of the most popular dog walking areas in the country.

Inspector Korine Bishop, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team, said: “Dog walkers are the first people out in the mornings and the last ones out at night, so they are often in a position to notice anything suspicious.

“The scheme is not asking for members to intervene, but just to report anything that does not look right to the relevant authority.

“This is an excellent opportunity to develop a closer relationship with the dog-walking community around the Forest so, together with our partners, we can make our neighbourhoods safer.”

People interested in the scheme will have to register to join the Hampshire Alert messaging system.

Members will then receive updates and information from the police and other organisations including Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and New Forest District Council.

They will also be told where they can pick up an information card which contains all the relevant contact numbers in the New Forest area.

Last year the New Forest was named the second most popular dog walking zone in the UK.

Its popularity was revealed by the pet and house-sitting organisation TrustedHousesitters, which analysed nearly 12,000 social media posts about dog walking across the country.

A TrustedHousesitters spokesman said: "We looked on social media to see which locations people were posting about the most when walking their dog. A massive 11,894 posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were counted and the results are in."

The Forest finished second, beaten only by the Lake District.

To join Dog Watch go online and register with www.hampshirealert.co.uk.


t: 023 8042 4503

e: chris.yandell@