New hare coursing legislation comes into force

Lincolnshire Police chief praises CLA efforts in lobbying for change of hare coursing laws
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Lincolnshire Police Chief Inspector Phil Vickers has praised the work of the CLA in helping to push for tougher punishments for those caught hare coursing.

New legislation came into place this month meaning that those caught hare coursing can now face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.

These new measures strengthen law enforcement for hare coursing by increasing the maximum penalties for convictions under existing legislation within the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act. New criminal offences are being introduced, in addition to new powers for the courts to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs.

The details include:

  • Increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game under the Game Acts (the Game Act 1831 and the Night Poaching Act 1828) to an unlimited fine and introducing the possibility of up to six months’ imprisonment.
  • Two new criminal offences: trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare; and being equipped to trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare. Both are punishable on conviction by an unlimited fine and/or up to six months’ imprisonment.
  • New powers for the courts to order, on conviction, the reimbursement of costs incurred by the police in kennelling dogs seized in connection with a hare coursing-related offence.
  • New powers or the courts to make an order, on conviction, disqualifying an offender from owning or keeping a dog.

Responding on the social media platform twitter, Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, who is a national police lead on hare coursing, thanked the CLA for its lobbying work.

He tweeted: 'Credit to @CLAtweets for championing the cause and working as a coalition with other rural groups to secure the changes'. He then pointed to importance of the CLA's Hare Coursing Action Plan that was developed in 2018 and called for a series of measures to clamp down on the crime.

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The tweet from Chief Inspector Phil Vickers

Commenting on the new legislation coming into force, CLA Vice President and Norfolk landowner Gavin Lane, said:

“Hare coursing continues to be a blight on rural communities across England and Wales, and this new legislation which the CLA has been campaigning for ensures that anyone caught hare coursing will now face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison."

Gavin continued: “It is encouraging to note that there are also two new criminal offences added to the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, in addition to giving extra powers to the courts." Gavin finishes by highlighting the continued work the CLA has been doing on the issue in the last few months: “Since the legislation received Royal Assent in April, the CLA has been working closely with Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to inform them of the new powers so Chief Constables can prepare rural police officers with training before the beginning of the Hare coursing season in the autumn.”