Criminal Behaviour Order issued for Harecoursing

At Beverley Magistrates Court yesterday a 2-year Criminal Behaviour Order was issued to Michael Johnson of Chapel Street, Evenwood, Bishop Auckland.

15 Apr 2016

Johnson along with a second man, Luke Widdowfield of West View Road in Hartlepool, were stopped by officers following a report of harecoursing on Lynesykes Road in Kelk near Driffield of 11 October 2015.  Johnson and Widdowfield were reported for Poaching Offences.

In addition to the incident in October 2015 a further two cases where Johnson was convicted in February 2014 of day poaching in Lincolnshire and convicted of Hunting a wild mammal in the East Riding in April 2014 were considered.

The 2-year Criminal Behaviour Order prohibits Michael Johnson from acting in an anti-social manner, remaining in a group of two or more people in an outdoor space, or entering the Humberside Police Force area unless travelling to the port or airport.

Johnson was given a £500 fine, ordered to pay £250 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

Widdowfield was fined £400, ordered to pay £250 costs and a £40 victim surcharge.

Wildlife Officer PC Julie Turrell said, “This is a very good result and shows that the courts take very seriously the appalling act of harecoursing.  I would say to anyone who comes into the Humberside area to commit crimes against wildlife that we are ready to disrupt their activities and when we have evidence we will always prosecute.

“Hare coursers are often engaged in illegal betting involving large sums of money, and would be prepared to use violence if disturbed so if anyone sees hare coursing taking place we would advise them not to approach the criminals, but contact us immediately.

“Calls from the public really do make a difference, it provides important intelligence that helps us coordinate our resources to combat crime more effectively.

“Farm Watch & Country Watch groups now operate throughout all the Humberside Police Area. These groups are the eyes and ears of our rural community. People entering our county will soon been picked up by the groups and text messages circulated regarding their activity.”


Hare coursing facts

What is hare coursing? Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares using hounds. Participants spread in a line across a field and disturb the hare from its home. They then release their dogs to give chase. A bet is made on which dog will catch or turn the hare first with large sums of money changing hands. 

Is hare coursing legal? No. The Hunting Act 2004 made hare coursing illegal. It is illegal to participate, attend, knowingly facilitate or permit land to be used for a hare coursing event. If you believe hare coursing is happening on your land then contact your local police force.  Anyone convicted of the offence can be fined up to £5,000 by a magistrates’ court.

What are the most obvious signs of hare coursing? A group of vehicles parked in a rural area perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path. They may contain evidence of dogs inside – such as muddy paw prints and dog hair.

What should you do if you suspect hare coursing on your farm? If you see an event taking place on your farm, call the police immediately by calling 101. Do not approach the participants yourself.

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