FEATURE Part One: On patrol to disrupt hare coursing
Police across four forces have been tackling hare coursing with Operation Galileo seeing officers focussing their efforts and sending out a clear message that coursers are not welcome. Reporter Daniel Jaines took part in a day of action.
Our day starts in a small briefing room in Spalding Police Station.
Sgt Dave Robinson, tells us – a couple of reporters, plus officers from across East Midlands – that we will be patrolling the surrounding areas, including Holbeach, Long Sutton and Deeping St Nicholas – basically from Boston to the border of Cambridge.
We are reminded that hare coursers are ‘creatures of habit’, while another PC gives us positive news that the farmers of Deeping St Nicholas have ‘started helping themselves’ by securing their properties.
We are also told there was quite a coup on hare coursers the previous day, and warned there may not be as many this time round.
It’s then I’m paired up with EMOps officer PC Shaun Gent and PCSO Jane Gardner, who will be our ‘local knowledge’ for today.
This is a public day of action and we are one of five liveried vehicles on the ground. All local officers are also on the radio to feed information to the operation.
As we set off into the countryside, it soon becomes clear why ‘coursers’ come here – long back roads, along with open fields and clear visibility make spotting any potential dangers easy, and flat land means their off-road vehicles can cross from one side of a field to another quicker than a police car can drive around it.
As we drive around, PC Gent describes the kinds of things we are looking for, and we check a couple of isolated and parked vehicles through the radio and speak to any owners as we go.
Reports of a green Discovery and other vehicles come across the radio and ANPR systems and a couple of local men also signal us to report suspected hare coursing nearby – all leads we follow up on if they enter our patch, including hitting some higher speeds to get to predicted routes faster.
Then it happens, the green Discovery has been spotted again in Pode Hole – all teams on alert – and, after weighing up the options, PC Gent switches on the blue lights and we cover the 14 miles from our current position to where the last known location was.
Here we are met by another officer, and Lincolnshire Police wildlife crime officer Nick Willey.
Four men are dealt with at the scene - given dispersal orders - and we are able to return to our patrols before the day ends.