A NEW scheme which aims to encourage dog walkers to report suspicious activity has been launched in Hampshire.

Dog Watch has been created in the New Forest with a view to rolling it out across the rest of the county later this year.

The scheme invites dog walkers to be proactive and vigilant while walking their pet.

Police are hoping the launch of the scheme will result in more people reporting suspicious activity, plus incidents of graffiti, fly-tipping, vandalism and hare coursing.

Inspector Korine Bishop, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Country Watch team, said: “We are pleased to introduce this new scheme to the New Forest.

“Dog walkers are the first people out in the mornings and the last ones out at night, so they are often in a position to notice anything suspicious.

“The scheme is not asking for members to intervene, but just to report anything that does not look right to the relevant authority.

“This is an excellent opportunity to develop a closer relationship with the dog-walking community around the Forest so, together with our partners, we can make our neighbourhoods safer.”

Members of the public interested in the scheme will have to register to join the Hampshire Alert messaging system (www.hampshirealert.co.uk).

They will also need to select the Dog Watch group.

Members will then receive updates and information from the police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, New Forest District Council and other partner agencies.

They will also be sent details on where they can pick up an information card which contains all the relevant contact numbers in the New Forest area.

To join, register with www.hampshirealert.co.uk.