POLICE stepped up their efforts to reduce raptor persecution with a weekend of action across the region.

North Yorkshire Police in particular are keen to crackdown on the crime as the county repeatedly tops the national table when it comes to numbers of protected birds of prey being killed each year.

The force, along with Durham, Northumbria and more than 25 across the UK, took part in a weekend of events to highlight Operational Owl.

The awareness campaign seeks the public’s support in tackling illegal bird of prey persecution and events at the weekend included hub set up at the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre where officers spoke to the public about spotting the signs of raptor persecution.

Representatives from the RSPB, RSPCA, Moorland groups, Nidderdale AONB, and both of Yorkshire's National Parks also took part in awareness events.

North Yorkshire Police Sergeant Stuart Grainger is leading on the initiative and said: “It’s really positive to see so many police forces and organisations across the country committing to support Operation Owl both this weekend and moving forward – sending a clear message that bird of prey persecution will not be tolerated.

“Here in North Yorkshire, we are determined to put a stop to this unacceptable crime and to ensure our beautiful county is the haven it should be for so many birds of prey.

"The public’s support can make a huge difference, keeping their eyes and ears open for signs of persecution which can then be reported to us to investigate."

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Rural Crime, Chief Constable Darren Martland said: “Disturbing our natural environment by shooting, trapping and poisoning birds of prey is a criminal offence.

"I therefore welcome the work of forces across the country via Operation Owl, to increase awareness of birds of prey persecution, and to engage with our rural communities and partners in addressing these crimes."

To report any suspicions about raptor crime, visit operationowl.com