MPs from Cambridgeshire, Essex, Lincolnshire and Suffolk have met with the CLA in Westminster to discuss what more can be done to tackle the issue of hare coursing.
Hare coursing is a rural crime where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares with betting on the outcome. It was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act but takes place illegally without the permission of the landowner.
The CLA, whose members own or manage more than 10 million acres of rural land across England and Wales, highlighted the seriousness of this rural crime to MPs, calling for sentencing guidelines specifically related to the crime.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Hare coursing is illegal and an abhorrent crime that causes damage to land and property and those who seek to intervene are often threatened, intimidated or attacked.
“Hare coursers are hardened criminals who make large sums of money as a result of black market gambling and tough action is needed to stop them.
“Introducing specific sentences for hare coursing and helping police reclaim kennelling costs for dogs seized from offenders would help to deter the crime and make rural communities feel safer.”
The MPs from the East of England who attended the CLA event in Westminster included:
Matt Warman MP - Boston and Skegness
Jonathan Djanogly MP - Huntingdon
Shailesh Vara MP - North West Cambridgeshire
Kemi Badenoch MP - Saffron Walden
Dr Caroline Johnson MP - Sleaford and North Hykeham
Heidi Allen MP - South Cambridgeshire
Sandy Martin MP - Ipswich
Karen Lee MP - Lincoln
Victoria Atkins MP - Home Office Minister and MP for Louth and Horncastle
James Cartlidge - South Suffolk
Nic Dakin MP - Scunthorpe
Sir David Amess MP - Southend West
CLA member Jonathan Davis, a gamekeeper who attended the event, said:
“Gamekeepers are very much on the frontline. Organised gangs of criminals are using high-powered 4x4 vehicles and dogs specifically bred to kill. Tens of thousands of pounds can change hands in a single night. We need more support and better legislation to deter hare coursing and associated wildlife crimes such as poaching.”
Click here to read the CLA’s action plan to stamp out hare coursing in full.