Police step up effort to clamp down on hare coursing

Chief Constable Alec Wood

Chief Constable Alec Wood - Credit: Archant

Police are up stepping their efforts to ensure Cambridgeshire is a “less attractive place to come” for hare coursers.

Figures obtained by The Hunts Post show 326 incidents were reported to police, from August 1 to November 15, 2015, compared to the same period last year, when 461 incidents were recorded – an increase of around 41 per cent.

Although hare coursing has been banned for more than a decade, the force is still seeing people travelling from across the country to take part in the illegal pasttime.

Chief Constable Alec Wood said: “At this time of year, hare coursing is something that causes real concerns, anxiety and even financial loss in many cases to farmers and landowners.

“I want to put the message out there that if you come to Cambridgeshire, you’ve got a very good chance of being caught. We will have your dogs and we will have your vehicle and therefore make it a less attractive place to come.”

To tackle the problem, the force, specifically its Rural Crime Action Team, has begun working with the National Farmers Union to reinforce prosecutions.

“The Rural Crime Action Team is now developing strong relationships with the National Farmers Union and with local farmers, so that they could potentially be called to give evidence and when we get that evidence we will then hopefully be able to prosecute,” said Chief Constable Wood.

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As a part of the mission to stamp out hare coursing, the team has employed the use of technology.

“We have been using video and the team has started to use drones now over the fields if they believe they have got somebody hare coursing.

“The team is also using off-road vehicles and they have four wheel drives and motorcycles so they can get to the scene quicker because sometimes by the time police arrive you’ve got four men and a vehicle with dogs and it is actually proving that they have been hare coursing.

“It [hare coursing] is a continual problem for us but I think we are tackling it in the most robust way that we can, given all the other priorities we face as well.”