Hare coursing reports up this year says Essex Police
PUBLISHED: 20:20 29 December 2017 | UPDATED: 21:15 29 December 2017
Around 500 reports of hare coursing have been reported to Essex Police this year - which the force says is a significant increase on 2016.
The practice of hare coursing – an illegal activity under the Hunting Act 2004 – sees hares and rabbits chased and killed by dogs and takes place in rural areas.
Damage is often caused to crops and cattle by trespassing on farmland and Essex Police has a specialist team based in Chelmsford devoted to tackling rural crime.
The team uses technology like drones and automatic number plate recognition software to identify suspects, who are often connected to organised crime groups operating across the region.
The force says this year’s high numbers are down to more reports coming in about the practice rather than a worrying increase in incidents.
Chief Inspector Ian Gennery, of Essex Police’s local policing support unit, said: “Hare coursing is a problem for our rural communities and it is often connected to organised crime groups operating across the region and even nationwide.
“We have seen around 500 reports of hare coursing this year which is significantly up on last year but we know that this reflects more reports coming in rather than a worrying increase in actual incidents.
“Some of our neighbouring forces experience much higher numbers of incidents but our work demonstrates how seriously we take the problem.”
“Make no mistake: these are crimes and they are not only incredibly cruel to animals, they can damage the environment and local businesses too.
“We have dedicated teams looking out for this activity and we’ve had some fantastic success in Uttlesford, Epping Forest and on the Dengie peninsula recently.
“But we also need local communities to be vigilant and tell us when something’s not right.
“I need people to look out for hare coursers. Look for four-wheel drive vehicles or transit vans parked up near fields, groups of people with dogs and vehicles driving across fields.
“Hare coursers are criminals and they can be violent, so please don’t approach them. Take down number plate details and any other information and call us on 999 if an incident is in progress and 101 if not.”