Humberside Police receives 200 hare coursing reports as 'major problem' persists

Police are trying to tackle the pursuit.
Police are trying to tackle the pursuit.

More than 200 cases of hare coursing were reported to a Yorkshire police force during the final two months of last year.

The Humberside Police figures were released today as Wildlife and Rural Crime officer Brandon Ward said the illegal pursuit remains a "major problem" during the winter months.

Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares using hounds, where participants spread in a line across a field and disturb the hare from its home. They then release their dogs to give chase.

Bets are often made on which dog will catch or turn the hare first with large sums of money changing hands, officers said.

They added that 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 Humberside and East Yorkshire for the pursuit, the force said.

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.”

The force said that during November and December over 200 reports of hare coursing were reported to it, with 150 reportsfrom the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Last weekend, wildlife and rural crime trained officers were carrying out dedicated 'Operation Galileo' anti-poaching patrols in the area.

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, who later stopped several more men in the area who were also thought to be involved.

They were issued with with Section 35 notices, which prevents them entering the East Riding for 48 hours and two vehicles were seized..

Last winter the forcesecured 11 Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) for hare coursing offences.

Chief Inspector Iain Dixon said: “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.”

Mr Ward added: “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 and 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.”