Rural Crime

East Riding and North Lincolnshire: Hare coursing remains a major problem

11 Jan 2018

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The winter months may seem quieter out in the fields of the East Riding and rural North Lincolnshire but this causes specific problems for us and our farming and rural community as criminals travel to the flat countryside surround the counties to conduct illegal hare coursing. The practice is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004.

At this time of year the fields have been harvested and there is open countryside allowing a clear view of animals.  Criminals from the North East and West Yorkshire travel a considerable distance to come here to conduct their ‘sport’

Poaching, including hare coursing is a UK national wildlife priority. It is often carried out by organised groups of criminals where large sums of money can change hands due to bets being placed on the performance of the dogs used.

Landowners and members of the public are often threatened by these gangs and damage is often caused by vehicles being driven across standing crops along with damage to gates and fences.

Wildlife & Rural Crime Officer, Brandon Ward, said “Hare coursing remains a major problem in our area during the winter months. It is with increased patrols by specially trained wildlife and rural crime officers and the help of local people being our eyes and ears and reporting these crimes that we can catch people in the act and bring them to justice.”

“Through joint working between Police and a dedicated CPS Wildlife Crime Prosecutor we are able to ensure continuity from offence to prosecution at court; sending out a clear message that this type of activity will be dealt with robustly in the Humberside Police area.”

During November and December over 200 reports of hare coursing were reported to us.  150 of those reports were from the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Last weekend wildlife and rural crime trained officers were carrying out dedicated 'Operation Galileo' anti-poaching patrols in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  They were responding to reports of a number of suspected hare coursers on farm land in the Preston area of Holderness.  With the help of local Farm Watch members several men were found and detained by officers and dealt with for suspected offences.  Officers later stopped several more men in the area who were also thought to be involved.  We issued the men with Section 35 notices* which prevents them entering the East Riding for 48 hours, so preventing further offences in our area.  We also seized two vehicles.

Last winter we secured 11 Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) for hare coursing offences and we are likely to remain the national lead for using Anti-Social Behaviour legislation to tackle hare coursing and poaching.

In December we were successful in obtaining a CBO against Daniel Michael Rush (43) from Kirkwall Drive in Bradford.  The CBO was for lamping on Burton Agnes fields near Bridlington on 9 September 2017.  The CBO will ensure that Daniel Rush will not be allowed to be “Acting or encourage others to act in any behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others, anywhere in Humberside Police Area. Or “remain in a group of two or more persons in any outdoor space or public place within Humberside Police area where that group or any individuals within that group cause harassment, alarm or distress to others.

Chief Inspector Iain Dixon “We take rural crime very seriously, the vulnerability of residents living in remote farms and villages is recognised and understood by us.”

“As a Force we are committed to the policing of wildlife and rural crime.  With specially trained Wildlife Crime officers (WCOs) and we have trained all PCSOs and Community Beat Managers who police rural communities in how to deal with rural crimes.  We are, now more than ever before, ideally placed to understand and respond to wildlife and rural crimes.”

Wildlife & Rural Crime Officer, Brandon Ward said, “We encourage farmers to call us is they see anyone acting suspiciously on their land, their information can help us identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”

“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.”

Help us tackle wildlife and rural crime by reporting it on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.

Additional information:

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 often made on which dog will catch or turn the hare first with large sums of money changing hands.
  • Is hare coursing illegal? Yes. 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.
  • What you can hunt? https://www.gov.uk/hunting/what-you-can-hunt-and-when
  • How you can hunt? https://www.gov.uk/hunting/hunting-equipment

*Section 35 notices: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/12/part/3/enacted?view=plain