Forces unite to rid countryside of hare coursers

Stock image of a hare being pursued. Four men have been arrested in connection with hare coursing in

Stock image of a hare being pursued. Four men have been arrested in connection with hare coursing in Redenhall, near Harleston. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Seven police forces across the region have teamed up to make it easier to prosecute hare coursers.

Borders between the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent forces have been removed when using certain tactics.

The agreement, which has been completed with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, means the forces become one when using certain powers. This will assist with the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and the sharing of intelligence about illegal blood sports.

Sgt Craig Flavell, from Cambridgeshire's rural crime team, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to reach this agreement. It’s an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to tackle hare coursing and rid our rural areas of this cruel blood sport.

“The agreement effectively means that anyone caught committing anti-social behaviour (ASB) related to coursing, say in Norfolk, would be seen as also committing this in Kent.

“If the same person were to carry on their behaviour in Kent, proactive measures can take place using the ASB legislation, and if that same person was to continue for a third time, in say Bedfordshire, a prosecution can commence – alongside any other action as a result of earlier behaviour.

“It means that if someone is involved in three incidents of ASB linked to hare coursing they will be prosecuted, irrespective of which area they commit the offences in.

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“The subsequent prosecution would then allow officers to apply for court orders following conviction. These can include driving disqualifications, Criminal Behaviour Orders, the forfeiture of assets - for example dogs and vehicles.”

Hare coursing traditionally begins in September after the harvest. Coursing causes damage to crops and can result in intimidation and even violence.

Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing, trees or barrels filled with concrete.

Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place is asked to contact police immediately on 999 and provide officers with a description of the people involved, any registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel. They should not confront coursers or put themselves at risk.

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