SUSPECTED poachers were given a bit of a shock when they were "flushed out" of a field by one of the force's drone.

Normally used to help trace missing people, the technology has become a great tool for officers and had its first outing on a proactive operation with the Rural Watch team on Wednesday night.

There drone was operated by officers from the Roads Policing Unit during the incident in Teesdale.

After their game of hide-and-seek was brought to an end, the suspects who made attempts to flee, were challenged and reported for poaching and Covid offences.

Meanwhile in Weardale, three men were also reported for poaching, covid breaches and traffic offences.

Officers from Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Response, Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit and the Dogs Section worked together with 30 volunteers across our rural communities during Operation Checkpoint which involves patrols, intelligence sharing across a dedicated Whatsapp group and visiting different farms to offer reassurance.

Around 20 vehicles were also stopped and checked with two vehicles being seized for traffic offences.

Barnard Castle NPT Sergeant, Angela Drasdo, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “This superb teamwork is testament to the dedication of both our officers and residents who came out in force again last night to help us tackle rural crime head on.

“It was fantastic to join the volunteers and officers especially as we have had quite a few new volunteers join recently.

“The latest figures show a 24 per cent reduction in rural crime across the county which is fantastic and reflects the proactive teamwork we continue to carry out with Rural Watch members and residents alike.

“I hope this gives a clear message to criminals that rural crime will not be tolerated.”