With a lull over the Summer, we are seeing an increase in hare coursing in the Midlands this season.
It saddens me to see the damage and destruction caused to farmer’s and landowner’s property, and our local communities, following a visit from hare coursers. I regularly see gates which have been rammed, fencing removed from fields as they try to make a speedy exit, and burnt out cars left in fields. Members often report damage to crops, abusive behaviour and violence when they encounter these criminals.
In 2018, the CLA developed a Hare Coursing Action Plan and have since lobbied alongside several rural and environmental groups to help secure changes to tackle this blight on the countryside.
In August 2022, we welcomed significant changes that were made to the legislation surrounding the practice of Hare Coursing.
These measures introduced stiffer penalties meaning that anyone caught taking part in hare coursing can face unlimited fines and up to six months in prison.
Two new criminal offences were also added to the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 – 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. The Act gives extra powers to the courts including being able to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs, and reclaiming police kenneling costs from the offender.
Other forces including South Staffordshire and West Mercia Police have signed up to the UK wide Operation Galileo which is an operation tackling hare coursing, promoting cross border relationships and sharing intelligence on known offenders. This allows the police to target key areas to prevent and detect crime where perpetrators cross force boundaries.
Midlands Rural Adviser, Helen Dale regularly attends rural crime meetings across the region and keeps up to date with the latest from each county.
One of the key messages that we are hearing from these meetings is that crimes must be reported. This helps the police build up a bank of intelligence to understand where their resources would be put to use best.
The CLA prides itself on supporting farmers, landowners and rural businesses ensuring that they have a say on a variety of important rural matters. Regular communication with outside organisations such as police forces ensures that their concerns continue to be heard.
You can also read the article by BBC Midlands who interviewed Midlands Regional Director Sophie Dwerryhouse alongside CLA member Maurice Jones and PC Knock here.