POLICE say they will not be "a soft touch" on rural crime after two targeted operations.

Wiltshire Police carried out two operations tackling rural crime and poaching in August and early September as part of Operation Engage.

Officers from local community policing teams, the volunteer special constabulary and neighbouring forces Dorset and Hampshire took part in the operation which saw more than 130 vehicles stopped.

The first operation, on August 24 and 25, run by Salisbury PCSO Matthew Smith, stopped a total of 108 vehicles.

PCSO Smith said: “We want to reassure our rural communities, who can feel vulnerable due to their isolated locations, that we are working hard to disrupt and deter hare coursing and poaching in the county.

“Poachers and hare coursers have a considerable impact on the livelihoods of game keepers and farmers and we are committed to tackling the issue.

“Those involved in poaching and coursing are often from outside the county and are involved in other types of criminality too, such as theft of farm equipment. Operations like this are important to reinforce the message that Wiltshire is not a soft touch and we will not tolerate criminality within our rural communities.”

During the second operation, led by Salisbury PCSO Nicola Clark, a total of 35 vehicles were stopped for various offences.

Salisbury MP John Glen, who has spoken on rural issues in Parliament, attended the operation briefing to discuss problems faced by local farmers and gamekeepers because of rural crime.

PCSO Nicola Clark said: "Wiltshire is a predominantly rural county and therefore operations like this are really important to our communities.

"I hope a heightened police presence in these areas has provided reassurance to those in our most rural areas that we are dedicated to tackling crimes that affect them the most."