Borders between seven forces 'erased' to tackle hare coursing

Seven police forces in the Eastern region of England have effectively removed the borders between them to assist with the the arrest and prosecution of those involved in hare coursing.

Aug 25, 2021
By Tony Thompson

Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Norfolk Police, Suffolk Police, Essex Police and Kent Police have signed an agreement, with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, means the seven forces become one force when using certain powers.

This will assist with the use of automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR), the seizure of dogs and the sharing of all interactions and movements of people suspected to be involved in hare coursing.

This move supports the ongoing national initiative – Operation Galileo – which aims to tackle the issue.

Chief Inspector Terry Balding, Local Policing Support Unit, Essex Police, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to reach this agreement. It’s an important step forward in our ongoing efforts to tackle hare coursing and rid our rural areas of this cruel blood sport.

“Hare coursing is a priority here in Essex and to help us achieve significant gains in this area, our Rural Engagement Team has increased: we now have two sergeants and ten officers tackling coursing and other rural crimes that blight our rural communities and threaten the livelihoods of farmers.”

The agreement effectively means that anyone caught committing anti-social behaviour (ASB) related to coursing, say in Norfolk, would be seen as also committing this in Essex.

“If the same person were to carry on their behaviour in Kent, proactive measures can take place using ASB legislation, and if that same person was to continue for a third time, in say Bedfordshire, a prosecution can commence – alongside any other action – as a result of earlier behaviour,” said Chief Insp Balding.

“It means that if someone is involved in three incidents of ASB linked to hare coursing they will be prosecuted, irrespective of which area they commit the offences in.

“The subsequent prosecution would then allow officers to apply for court orders following conviction. These can include driving disqualifications, Criminal Behaviour Orders, and the forfeiture of assets – for example, dogs and vehicles.”

Hare coursing traditionally begins in September when the fields have been harvested and ploughed, making them the perfect ground for the illegal blood sport. Hare coursing causes damage to crops, harms animal welfare and threatens the rural community. It can result in intimidation and even violence.

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