ESSEX Police have urged residents across Colchester to keep their dogs on the leads near livestock following a rise in reported incidents.

Officers have asked dog walkers to take extra care, and reminded residents that sheep worrying is a criminal offence.

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A spokesman for Essex Police Colchester said: "We are seeing an increase in reports of people not having their dogs on leads around live stock.

"Sheep worrying is a criminal offence, so if you are walking your dog, or new puppy, and there are other animals around, please put your dog on a lead, it is not acceptable to let your dog chase livestock.

"While you might not think your dog has affected the animals, pregnant ewes can miscarry their lambs due to the stress of being chased.

"Some will die from their attempts to find a safe place.

"Keeping your dog on a lead around livestock will not only protect the animals, but help protect you from prosecution."