THREE men were arrested on suspicion of poaching and a vehicle was seized on the A4361 near Broad Hinton.

The four-wheel drive vehicle was suspected of having been used for night poaching was seized on Wednesday.

The arrests were made the following day for daytime poaching, criminal damage and driving on a road without insurance and for driving otherwise than on a road.

Police said three men were seen pushing or ramming open a metal farm gate and driving across farmland, damaging newly-planted crops. The vehicle was seen following a dog that was chasing what was believed to be game.

PC Peter Simmonds, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “With the help of colleagues from the firearms and road policing units the vehicle was stopped on the A4361 near to Broad Hinton.”

“Three male occupants were arrested at the scene and have since been released under investigation. They had three long dogs in the vehicle with them.”

Sgt Greg Fergusson, of the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team, said: “On this occasion there are a number of witnesses and body worn video available for evidence. We are not always that fortunate.

“Only earlier in the month we had five men, equipped with night vision goggles, with five dogs in their vehicle and more than 45 miles from their homes who failed to stop for police when told to do so.

“They were stopped later that night, in the south of the county, arrested, interviewed and the file supported by CPS for entering land as a trespasser at night with poaching equipment. However, all five were found not guilty, although one was convicted of failing to stop and fined. The reason was that we could not prove beyond all reasonable doubt that they had been poaching.

“It is important that we have good quality visually-recorded evidence, eye-witness testimony of animals being pursued or if we find there is quarry in the vehicle. We do not advise people to approach suspected poachers, but video evidence taken from a safe distance can be helpful. Do not put yourself or others at risk.

“By speaking up with information that could stop crime, we can all play a part in keeping the countryside and its creatures protected.”

A ‘long dog’ is any dog of sight hound type, usually a cross-breed between two sighthounds of different breeds, one of which is usually a greyhound.They excel at running down hares.

The Wiltshire Rural Crime Team is made up of one sergeant, three constables and 35 community policing team officers who are trained, and can offer support, as Wildlife and Heritage Crime Officers, operate across the county.

To help, report a crime online or call 101. In an emergency always call 999.