I have 21 years’ experience as a police officer with Sussex Police, the last six years of which I have worked on the Rural Crime Team in Sussex. I became a Police Wildlife Crime Officer twenty years ago and was later trained in heritage crime becoming the Heritage Crime Liaison Officer for Sussex Police. I am passionate about protecting rural communities, wildlife, the historic and natural environment and ensuring that those who commit crime are brought to justice.
I am a strong advocate for partnership working and have developed close relationships with local farmers, landowners, wildlife and heritage groups and other agencies.
I have worked nationally with other police forces and agencies to raise awareness of rural crime and create new ways to tackle it. I have attended the House of Lords to discuss livestock worrying and highlight the impact that it has on rural communities. I have consulted on legislative change for wildlife crime and I have worked closely with Historic England tackling heritage crime.
I am committed to making Sussex a safer place for everyone and am proud to be part of the Rural Crime Team. I am always looking for new ways to tackle rural crime and am always happy to hear from members of the public who have information which would help.
Rural Crime Team activity - July 2023
Items of property security marked – 117
Road traffic process – 4
Heritage sites patrolled – 74
Farms visited – 48
Intelligence gathered - 29
Rural Crime Team to highlight National Rural Crime Action Week
The Rural Crime Team will be working alongside local and national partners from 18 to 24 September, as part of National Rural Crime Action Week. This week serves to highlight the important work being carried out across the UK to tackle crimes as diverse as farm equipment thefts, metal thefts, wildlife crimes, heritage crimes and livestock worrying.
The impact of crimes against our farming communities are far reaching and it is important to recognise that it is not just the farmer and their livestock that are victims. For example, a sheep can provide 40-50 meals, so the loss of a single sheep will ultimately impact the availability and cost of food supplies. Multiply this by the effects of losing breeding ewes and their unborn lambs and the effect is much greater.
The team will be conducting events and operations during the week, highlighting these areas of crime. They will also be available for crime prevention advice at rural businesses across Sussex, such as agricultural equipment dealerships.
In addition to National Rural Crime Action Week, the team will also be attending the Ardingly South of England Show on 23-24 September. If you are visiting the show, please come along and say hello.
Livia Morvay sentenced for livestock worrying and anti-social behaviour
Livia Morvay of Station Road, Heathfield has been convicted and sentenced for livestock worrying and nine breaches of her Community Protection Notice. Morvay was investigated by the Rural Crime Team after 27 reported incidents of her dogs being out of control. These incidents included livestock worrying, knocking people over, and chasing other dogs.
Morvay was issued with a Community Protection Warning and a Community Protection Notice, but she continued to breach the conditions of these notices. She was also arrested and charged with livestock worrying on three occasions. In court, Morvay was convicted of 9 breaches of the Community Protection Notice and was fined £600 for each breach, totalling £5400. She was also ordered to pay £300 compensation to the farmer of the final livestock attack and £190 on court costs.
The court also granted a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) which prevents Morvay from keeping or controlling any dog for five years. If caught doing so, she could be arrested and face a prison sentence of up to five years.
This case is a reminder of the importance of responsible dog ownership. Morvay's actions caused significant harm to the agricultural community and to members of the public. She refused to take responsibility for her dogs and as a result, she has been severely punished by the courts.
We hope that this case will deter other dog owners from behaving in a similar way.
Four men convicted and sentenced for poaching
Four men appeared in court in August after being found poaching pheasant in Upwaltham, near Chichester.
They were found in possession of catapults and dead pheasants were found in the area.
They received the following penalties:
Joe Harber, 27, from Billingshurst, West Sussex was given a financial penalty of £639.
Henry Gaskin, 29, from Romney Marsh, Kent was given a financial penalty of £639.
Thomas Ball, 41, from Sunbury-On-Thames, Middlesex was given a financial penalty of £639.
Albert Harber,30, from Easthampnett, Chichester was given a financial penalty of £591 (reduced from the others for an early guilty plea.
With a combined penalty of £2,508, we are pleased to show that those who are caught poaching in Sussex will be dealt with robustly.
An uninsured van was stopped by officers in Wealden District. The occupants carrying scrap metal without holding an appropriate waste carriers licence. Metal theft is a widescale and serious problem, and is a national rural crime priority, which is often linked to organised crime. If you spot a van in your area with people taking metal then please report it. The vehicle registration is the most important detail, so please make a note (or take a photo) of it.
RCT officers patrolling the Ashdown Forest last month, caught two men fly tipping, dragging bags of waste into the woodland. With the agreement of the Ashdown Forest Rangers, who joined the officers at scene, the matter was dealt with by Community Resolution. The details of the people and vehicle involved will be passed to the Wealden District Council waste enforcement team.
Following the harvest, incidents of hare coursing have started to rise. Reports of vehicle tracks in fields, gates rammed off hinges and people with dogs in fields have started to come in. Please remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or incidents which are/have taken place.
A number of golf clubs in West Sussex have been targeted by thieves looking to steal machinery and vehicles used for grounds maintenance. Please ensure that if you own any tools or machinery that it is locked away safe, you have a record of any serial numbers on the machine and have photographs to provide to the police if the item is stolen. These simple steps help us return property if it is recovered.
Heritage crime on the rise
Heritage crime has increased in our county over the past month. This includes lead thefts from churches, damage to church windows and property, damage to bronze age burial mounds, and a report of ground disturbance believed to be the result of illicit metal detecting.
This image shows the damage that is caused by lead theft:
We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. If you see someone removing lead from a church roof, for example, please call 999 immediately.
It is also important to be aware of the laws protecting heritage assets. It is a criminal offence to cause damage to scheduled ancient monuments, such as Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring, and Pevensey Castle.
We all have a responsibility to protect our shared heritage. Please help us by being alert and reporting any suspicious activity.
Here are some additional tips for preventing heritage crime:
Install security lights and alarms around heritage assets.
Keep doors and windows locked, even when you are home.
Report any suspicious activity to the police immediately.
Do not wild camp or have barbecues or light fires without the landowner's permission.
By working together, we can help to keep our heritage safe.
Additional resources for learning more about heritage crime: