Police and farming organisations join forces to discuss ways of tackling hare coursing

Humberside Police, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and NFU, along with MP for Beverley and Holderness Graham Stuart, have hosted a meeting to discuss hare coursing.

By Phil Hutchinson
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 8:59 am
Graham Stuart MP, CLA’s lead on hare coursing Libby Bateman and Inspector Andy Bateman at the meeting.
Graham Stuart MP, CLA’s lead on hare coursing Libby Bateman and Inspector Andy Bateman at the meeting.

At the event they provided updates on the lobbying efforts by various organisations for legislative changes to give the police and the courts greater powers to apprehend and prosecute offenders.

Hare coursing, where dogs compete against each other in pursuit of a hare, was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act but now takes place illegally without the permission of the landowner.

It has also been reported that the crime sometimes involves live streaming to another location where bets often worth thousands of pounds are placed on the outcome.

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Betting is not only about dogs getting the hare, but about specific dogs, and their behaviour (for instance, the number of turns they make in pursuit of the hare).

At this meeting, Humberside Police reported that much of the footage is streamed globally, as far afield as China.

The dogs, mostly lurchers and greyhounds, are also highly prized and can be sold for up to £50,000.

Lobbying efforts are also focusing on recovering the kennelling costs incurred by police forces from criminals.

This costs the police thousands of pounds a year. The dogs are worth more than the vehicles used to hare course, and the meeting was told it would make sense to seize the animals.

In tackling hare coursing, Humberside Police’s Rural Taskforce is imposing 48-hour banning notices on those suspected perpetrators who more often than not travel from outside of the East Riding area.

Breaching these notices can lead to an immediate arrest.

The CLA’s lead on hare coursing, Libby Bateman, said: “I was pleased to see so many Holderness councillors at the meeting who have promised to do all they can to highlight the problem of hare coursing and promote the adoption of new laws to enable the police and the courts to better tackle hare coursing.

“Fines imposed under the Hunting Act are unlimited, yet too often they amount to just a few hundred pounds.

“This is not an effective deterrent for a lucrative crime perpetrated by criminal gangs. The police are able to seize vehicles and dogs – both of which would have a direct impact on hare coursers.

“Police forces have the power to tackle these criminals, but they need evidence to catch perpetrators and bring them to justice.

“Therefore we encourage people to record and report any suspicious activity to the police. This can be done by dialling 101 to speak to your local police force or contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”