POLICE are continuing throughout May with increased patrols in rural areas, including Exmoor, to protect countryside communities and businesses at a time when the local population is expected to significantly increase with an influx of visitors.

Devon and Cornwall Police rural affairs officer PC Chris Collins said: “With three bank holidays in May, we are increasing our rural patrols to safeguard people and livestock during a time when more visitors are expected.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to remind users of the countryside to respect and protect our environment, our wildlife, and our historic landmarks.

“Take notice of local signage, respect wildlife, and any livestock around you, keeping your dog on a lead to protect livestock and ground nesting birds.

“Leave no footprint by being considerate of the land and clearing up after you, prevent wildfire by avoiding the use of BBQs or fires and contact us if you think unlicensed music events are being planned.

“Please remember that when you are exploring the countryside, all land is owned and any abuse of access has a significant impact on landowners, farmers, their livestock, and the area’s wildlife.

“We ask that people follow the countryside code to protect our landscape so that everybody can enjoy it.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our open spaces, I would urge visitors to respect the countryside and be considerate to our rural communities.

“Enjoy the countryside but keep yourself safe, plan your visit, check the weather, tides, and local conditions.

“Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.”