Police probe illegal movements
By Johann Tasker
POLICE are investigating allegations that farmers fraudulently claimed compensation after illegally moving livestock during the foot-and-mouth crisis.
West Mercia Constabulary, which is based in Worcester, confirmed that it had launched an inquiry after receiving complaints from trading standards officials.
The allegations were reported to West Mercia by Worcestershire Trading Standards and the Ministry of Agriculture last Thursday (5 April).
The alleged offences are understood to have taken place within the force area, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire.
A police statement said: “In view of the fact that these enquiries are at an early stage we can provide no further information at the present time.”
FARMERS WEEKLY reported three weeks ago that trading standards officials were investigating some 200 alleged breaches of livestock restrictions.
A report prepared for the government shows that figure has now risen to 309, claimed BBC televisions Newsnight programme on Monday (9 April).
FARMERS WEEKLY has also revealed that some unscrupulous producers were willing to infect their own livestock in order to claim compensation.
Similar allegations were also made by the Newsnight programme.
About 1.5 million animals have been condemned to death in the fight against foot-and-mouth. A similar number are awaiting slaughter for animal welfare reasons.
Farmers receive more compensation for infected animals. These are slaughtered more quickly than clean animals, which are not considered a priority.
The National Farmers Union condemned illegal livestock movements, but conceded that farmers may have moved animals through confusion or desperation.
|Farmers blamed as epidemic spreads, FWi, 09 April, 2001|
|Farmers breach livestock regulations, FWi, 20 March, 2001|
|Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks|
|Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage|