Hare coursing falls by 31pc after 'borderless' police crackdown

A hare is pursued by two greyhounds on the final day. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Hare coursing has reportedly fallen by almost a third across the East of England following a collaboration between seven police forces - Credit: PA Images

Reports of hare coursing have fallen by almost a third in the East of England following a “borderless” police crackdown across seven counties.

Norfolk police teamed up with officers from Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent to tackle the illegal blood sport, which brings intimidating gangs onto farm fields to bet on dogs hunting wild hares.

Since the partnership formed, they said incidents of hare coursing across the region fell from 2044 in 2020-2021 to 1415 in 2021-2022, a drop of 31pc.

The cross-border agreement, forged with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, allowed the seven constabularies to act as one when using certain powers, making it easier to catch and prosecute offenders.

Over the past six months this has helped with the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and sharing intelligence on suspects, they said.

PC Chris Shelley, rural crime officer for Norfolk police

PC Chris Shelley, rural crime officer for Norfolk police - Credit: Norfolk police

Norfolk’s rural crime officer, PC Chris Shelley, said: “Hare coursing has a terrible impact on our rural communities: it damages property, threatens people's livelihoods, and subjects people and families to fear and intimidation.

“It’s an issue we take very seriously, and we will take prompt and robust action to prevent this happening in Norfolk and pursue anybody committing this crime.”

Sally Robinson, a district crown prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Those who commit hare coursing have historically exploited the borders of neighbouring forces to continue their illegal activities, causing the extreme suffering and unlawful killing of hares, whilst also having a harmful effect on our rural communities.

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“By using the legal expertise of the CPS and the operational knowledge of seven police forces in an innovative and collaborative way to effectively remove those borders, we have collectively built stronger cases for prosecution and made it harder for the perpetrators to offend in the future."

Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place should contact police immediately on 999 and provide a description of the people and vehicles involved - but they are warned not to confront anyone or put themselves at risk. Anyone with information about a previous crime should call 101 or report it via the Norfolk police website.