FOUR men have been charged with cockfighting offences in North Yorkshire following a joint investigation by police and the RSPCA.

North Yorkshire Police said officers from its rural taskforce and the animal charity went to an undisclosed rural location in the Hambleton district on January 13 and arrested four men at the scene.

Four men, aged 53, 31, 29 and 23, and from the Durham and Northumberland areas, had now been charged with offences under Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2008, said a force spokesman.

He said they had been charged with:

* causing an animal fight to take place

* keeping or training a cock for use in connection with an animal fight

* without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, being present at an animal fight

"The 29-year-old man has also been charged with keeping premises for use for an animal fight, and being present at an animal fight on other occasions," he said.

"All four will appear at Northallerton Magistrates Court on July 10."

He added that officers had released photographs of three other men they would like to speak to in connection with the investigation, as they might have important information.

Inspector Geoff Edmond, from the RSPCA, said that while four individuals had been charged with animal welfare offences, a wider investigation was ongoing.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, urged anyone recognising the three men pictured to contact the police, as they might have important information that could assist the investigation.

"Please dial 101, select option 2 and ask for the Rural Taskforce, or email, quoting reference number 12180007024," he said.

"Alternatively, people can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form at"