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Operation Galileo returns to tackle hare coursing


A successful operation to tackle hare coursing in Lincolnshire has returned.

Lincolnshire Police's efforts to fight the illegal 'sport' went from strength to strength in 2017/18 with 76 dogs being seized from criminals who were setting them loose to chase and kill hares.

The county also saw a 30 per cent fall in the number of incidents – from 1,965 in 2016/17 down to 1,365 in 2017/18 through the efforts of Operation Galileo, which has returned.

Police said the success was down to working closer with rural communities and the use of new technology and tactics, including drones with thermal imaging capability.

The drones return to the force’s fleet to tackle rural crime this season, along with quadbikes and Ford Kugas.

Three Ford Rangers will also be used and have greater capacity to safely hold seized dogs and more power tackle treacherous rural terrains.

Superintendent Phil Vickers, the police's lead for rural crime, said: "We are in good shape for this season with new vehicles and our drone can now be deployed 24/7 as more officers have been trained to fly them.

"Last season was very positive and we are looking at building on that while also improving our efforts to fight other rural crimes such as thefts of machinery and dangerous driving.

"Please report information, however insignificant you might think it is, as it may help us piece together a crime and prevent others from becoming victims."

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said he had made a commitment to ensure the force had the right tools to fight crime.

"The behaviour of these organised criminals from across the country goes far beyond the illegal act of hunting hares with dogs and can involve significant risk of serious harm to our community and will not be tolerated in Lincolnshire.

"The police are more operationally ready for these criminals than ever before and the work the Chief Constable and I have done to ensure the criminal justice system understands the gravity of these crimes will support them in keeping our communities safer than ever.

"The message is simple, Lincolnshire is not a safe place for criminals of any kind and if you come here to course then expect to leave your dogs in our care and have the full weight of the law used against you."

NFU regional director, Gordon Corner, said last year’s reduction in hare coursing incidents needed to be built on again.

"With the increased resources available to Lincolnshire Police; we hope to see this happen," he said.

"Hare coursing remains a difficult to deal with crime – by its nature it is mobile and not easy to track, which is why we will be asking our members to report every incident over the coming season.

"Lincolnshire Police needs to know about all rural crimes taking place, as they will be recorded, giving us all a true reflection of the problems in the county."

To report a rural crime anonymously, including hare coursing, livestock or machinery theft or industrial fly-tipping, call CrimeStoppers on 0800 783 0137 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Information that results in a conviction could result in a £1,000 reward.

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