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Hare coursing falls by 31% in East after seven police forces team up for borderless crackdown



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The incidence of hare coursing across the East of England has fallen by almost a third after seven police forces teamed up for a ‘borderless’ crackdown.

The collaboration between Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent forces was supported by the Crown Prosecution Service and made apprehending and prosecuting offenders easier.

It meant the forces acted as one when using certain powers, aiding the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and the sharing of all interactions and movements of people suspected to be involved in hare coursing.

Hare coursing is an illegal bloodsport
Hare coursing is an illegal bloodsport

The forces said the number of hare coursing incidents across the seven force areas fell from 2,044 in 2020-2021 to 1,415 in 2021-2022, a drop of 31 per cent against the national backdrop of Operation Galileo, a national initiative against the crime, which leads to hares being killed by dogs and private land - often farmland - being damaged. It can often result in intimidation and even violence towards individuals.

Community protection warnings (CPWs), community protection notices (CPNs) and the granting of criminal behaviour orders (CBOs) were used by the forces.

Sergeant Tom Nuttall, from Cambridgeshire’s rural crime action team (RCAT), said: “This is a great achievement by all seven forces and the CPS. Our collaboration shows how determined we are to tackle the barbaric actions of a few that cause significant physical and mental harm to those in our rural communities.

Officers involved across the East in a hare coursing crackdown
Officers involved across the East in a hare coursing crackdown

“We will continue with the collaboration and continue to work together to further reduce illegal coursing, lamping and poaching.”

The forces teamed up for the tradition start of the hare coursing season in September, when the fields have been harvested and ploughed, making them suited to the illegal blood sport. Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing or trees or to use barriers like barrels filled with concrete.

Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “The forces across the Eastern region have tackled an issue which we know causes a lot of concern to those that live and work in the rural areas of our counties.

“This successful collaboration, together with new legislation hopefully being introduced by the government to tackle hare coursing, will hopefully reduce further incidents of this nature and allow our rural crime teams to concentrate on other issues that affect our rural communities.”

A crackdown on hare coursing has led to a 31% reduction in the crime across seven police force areas
A crackdown on hare coursing has led to a 31% reduction in the crime across seven police force areas

Sally Robinson, a district Crown prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Those who commit hare coursing have historically exploited the borders of neighbouring forces to continue their illegal activities, causing the extreme suffering and unlawful killing of hares, whilst also having a harmful effect on our rural communities.

“By using the legal expertise of the CPS and the operational knowledge of seven police forces in an innovative and collaborative way to effectively remove those borders, we have collectively built stronger cases for prosecution and made it harder for the perpetrators to offend in the future.

“The CPS takes wildlife crime seriously and we will continue to work closely with the police and other partners to bring offenders to justice whenever our legal test is met.”

Hare coursing is an illegal bloodsport
Hare coursing is an illegal bloodsport

Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place is asked to contact police immediately on 999 and provide officers with a description of the people involved, any registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel. Police advise people not to confront hare coursers or put themselves at risk.

If you have information about hare coursing and it’s not currently happening, or have been a victim of the crime, please call 101 or report on Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s website. If a crime is in progress call 999.

For more information and advice on rural crime visit the force’s dedicated web page.

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