Game of ‘catch-up’ for police in catching hare coursers across South Holland
The Government, police and courts are “playing catch-up” with hare coursers, despite a 15 per cent fall in reports across South Holland and Boston.
Coun Andrew Bowell, Chairman of Deeping St James Parish Council, made the claim after figures given to the Spalding Guardian after a Freedom of Information Act request showed there were nearly 200 fewer cases of hare coursing reported over the last season.
The figures from Lincolnshire Police showed there were 1,009 incidents reported between September 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, the traditional hare coursing season.
It has dropped compared to the 1,186 reported cases in 2015-16, but is one and a half times more than the 395 incidents reported in 2014-15 when a specialist Operation Galileo police team was in operation.
Coun Bowell said: “It is interesting to note that the number of hare coursing incidents has doubled since 2014/15, but the police are having to operate with less resources.
“Hare coursing is a cruel, vile pastime where the dogs are mistreated, the hares are torn to pieces and both farmers and their families often live in fear of these gangs which is an absolute disgrace.
Hare coursing is a cruel, vile pastime where the dogs are mistreated, the hares are torn to pieces and both farmers and their families often live in fear of these gangs which is an absolute disgrace
“The police need to be given the tools to do the job properly and the law needs changing to enable officers to effectively do their job.
“Also the law needs changing to enable magistrates to pass stiffer sentences and, finally, the Police Funding Formula is unfair to rural counties like Lincolnshire where the police do not get sufficient funding to tackle rural crime effectively.
A new Rural Policing Strategy is currently being finalised by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, his deputy Stuart Tweedale and Chief Constable Bill Skelly.
The strategy includes the use of nine, new Ford Kuga 4x4 vehicles and a £16,000 drone capable of taking images of hare coursers on farmland.
But Coun Bowell said: “At the moment, they are only playing catch-up with the hare coursers and we are still collecting signatures for our anti-hare coursing petition which we will be presenting to Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones at a future date.”
There was a 12 per cent drop in reported hare coursing across the county, with 1,965 reports in 2016-17, compared to 2,241 in 2015-16, according to Lincolnshire Police.
Superintendent Mark Housley, force lead for rural crime, said: “We made good progress in tackling hare coursing last year and we are making sure that we have the resources to crack down on it even more.
“We have bolstered our fleet with nine new 4x4s to get down farm tracks quicker and we will also start using a drone to help us with checking fields for hare coursers.
“This footage could be used as evidence and by working with other local forces in days of action, we will again look to seize the vehicles and dogs of offenders whilst continuing to share our progress with the National Farmers Union.
“However, information from farmers and the public remains at the heart of this and so if you see people hare coursing, suspect they are about to or hear of a pre-organised event, please report it to us by calling 101.
“In an emergency call 999 but please do not tackle these individuals.”