Richard Fuller MP for North East Bedfordshire is introducing a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons to try and help tackle the crime of hare coursing.
The Bill will include measures that can effectively deter hare coursing potentially including stronger guidance on sentencing; a higher limit for certain penalties; and, giving the police the tools to combat the crime.
Richard Fuller MP said:
“Hare coursing is a serious and aggravating crime, but victims of this crime are currently poorly served in obtaining justice. Over the past year, I have heard directly from residents in North East Bedfordshire who feel both threatened and powerless in confronting this crime. This is replicated across much of the country.
“In addition to the impact of this criminality, the dogs used in the crime are often exhausted and left for dead and hares are killed senselessly. The government’s own Action Plan for Animal Welfare released last month, highlights the need for action.”
Although hare coursing is illegal it is not a notifiable offence and many incidents are not reported. Police powers to intervene, already difficult given location and times of day for hare coursing, are ill suited to the crime and too often the penalties are an insufficient deterrent.
A survey last month by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society revealed the problems associated with hare coursing, with many respondents reporting they had received threats, damage to property, experienced livestock harm and had to invest considerable sums to deter vehicles from destroying crops.
“This Bill will seek changes to give the police the tools they need to do the job – for example, as part of a prosecution, to recover and enforce the costs for kennelling of dogs seized from the offenders. It will also seek stronger guidance on sentencing and a higher limit for certain penalties will also form part of my bill.”
“Remedies in law are strewn across multiple, arcane pieces of legislation dating back to the 1800s such as the Night Poaching Act of 1828 and the Game Act of 1831. My Bill will remove these and become the defining law for the crime of hare coursing.”
“Over the coming weeks I will consult with local residents and with national animal welfare and rural campaign groups for their advice on what I hope will prove to be an effective step in combating this crime.”
Richard Fuller was drawn 18 out of 20 in the ballot for Commons Private Members' Bills for the 2021-2022 session on Thursday 20 May.
The Hare Coursing Bill will have its First Reading in the House of Commons on 16 June and will then be debated over 13 sitting Fridays. The dates of the sitting Fridays in this session have not been announced yet.