New chief commits to action plan on rural crime

Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police, Bill Skelly, NFU Regional Director for East Midlands, Gordon Corner, Dr Caroline Johnson, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, Marc Jones, and Mark Leggott, NFU Lincolnshire county chairman.  Photo supplied.

Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police, Bill Skelly, NFU Regional Director for East Midlands, Gordon Corner, Dr Caroline Johnson, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, Marc Jones, and Mark Leggott, NFU Lincolnshire county chairman. Photo supplied.

  • Top cop meets with Police and Crime Commissioner for NFU-led talks
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An action plan to tackle rural crime, including hare coursing, has been promised by the new Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police.

Bill Skelly made the pledge after meeting farmers and growers at a summit organised by NFU East Midlands near Boston on Friday.

More than 100 NFU members came to the meeting at Boston West Golf Club where they heard from Mr Skelly and Marc Jones, Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Mr Skelly said: “I sympathise with members of the farming community, understand their frustration and accept that this is damaging their livelihood.

“We have already committed more officers to tackling this, but we will look at the way we gather information and use it, as well as to consider how we collaborate with other forces and also explore new technologies.

“It (hare coursing) isn’t acceptable and I am taking this matter very seriously.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly.  Photo supplied.

Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly. Photo supplied.

“We may not stop the problem completely but I am confident farmers will see a change for the better in the near future.”

During the meeting, farmers from South Holland, the Deepings and other parts of Lincolnshire told the Chief Constable and Commissioner about the worrying trend of hare coursers becoming more threatening this season. Mr Skelly also heard how hare coursing have become more organised, with the help of social media and drones to regularly film meetings where thousands of pounds change hands as they betting on the outcome of their crimes. Gordon Corner, NFU Regional Director for the East Midlands, said: “This was a very productive meeting as it was the first time that a Chief Constable has addressed NFU members on rural crime and, in particular, the issue of hare coursing.

“There were more than 100 NFU members present to explain the issues they face, the destruction to family businesses and the fear and intimidation their families and staff experience.

“Mr Skelly heard that this year the number of experiences of hare coursing has increased, as has the numbers of people and vehicles involved.

I sympathise with members of the farming community, understand their frustration and accept that this is damaging their livelihood

Bill Skelly, Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police

“He listened and agreed to come back to a further meeting to discuss how hare coursing will be addressed next season.

“But, in the meantime, he would look to see how police action could be targeted to counteract hare coursing for the rest of this season.”

Mr Jones said: “I was clear that rural crime will be successfully tackled when working in partnership with other agencies and groups.

“It became very clear to me early on that the best way to tackle hare coursing is to confiscate the dogs, but we need the support of the whole justice system for that to work.

“We are getting support from our MPs in ensuring we have the right laws and the appropriate funding to address rural crime and we need the justice system to make sure offenders are dealt with strongly.

“I have spent a great deal of time focused on finding solutions and I fully support the Chief Constable’s commitment to both short-term solutions and a proper long-term plan.”