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Hare coursing reports plummet by third across South East with success given to new police scheme

Hare coursing has fallen by 37% in Kent according to police who say the success is owed to a new 'borderless' scheme set up by six forces.

The statistic is part of a wider picture which sees reports of the blood sport fall by almost a third.

Reports of hare coursing have fallen Picture: Stock
Reports of hare coursing have fallen Picture: Stock

The crackdown on rural crime comes after Kent Police and six other police forces teamed up in September.

Borders between Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent were removed when using certain tactics, which has made catching culprits easier.

The agreement, completed with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, means the forces become one when using certain powers.

Over the past six months this has helped with the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and the sharing of all interactions and movements of people suspected of being involved in hare coursing.

The move also supports the ongoing national initiative against hare coursing; Operation Galileo.

Reports of hare coursing have fallen Picture: Stock
Reports of hare coursing have fallen Picture: Stock

Sergeant Darren Walshaw of Kent Police Rural Task Force said: "By working collaboratively we have been significantly more effective and this has resulted in a reduction in reports of hare coursing.

"We have experienced a reduction of 37% with 329 reports received between September 2021 and March 2022 compared with 523 the previous year, which is 194 fewer incidents.

"We will continue with the collaboration and continue to work together to further reduce illegal coursing, lamping and poaching."

Hare coursing traditionally begins in September when the fields have been harvested and ploughed, making them perfect ground for hunts.

It causes damage to crops and threatens the rural community, as well as the obvious harm to animals. It can result in intimidation and even violence and has been banned on the grounds of cruelty since 2005.

Reginald Abercrombie, a self-proclaimed born-again Christian gypsy, of Heartenoak Farm, Hawkhurst, was charged with hare coursing in May 2019 and fined £624.

Later that year, Jimmy Price, of Forstal Farm, Loose, was convicted of four hunting charges including hare coursing and repeatedly stabbing a deer.

Jimmy Price with a hare killed by his dogs
Jimmy Price with a hare killed by his dogs

Sally Robinson, a District Crown Prosecutor for the CPS, said: "Those who commit hare coursing have historically exploited the borders of neighbouring forces to continue their illegal activities, causing the extreme suffering and unlawful killing of hares, whilst also having a harmful effect on our rural communities.

"By using the legal expertise of the CPS and the operational knowledge of seven police forces in an innovative and collaborative way to effectively remove those borders, we have collectively built stronger cases for prosecution and made it harder for the perpetrators to offend in the future.

‘"The CPS takes wildlife crime seriously and we will continue to work closely with the police and other partners to bring offenders to justice whenever our legal test is met."

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.

It is important people don’t confront hare coursers or put themselves at risk.

If you have information about hare coursing and it’s not currently happening, or have been a victim of the crime, please call 101 or report on Kent Police’s website.

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