Incidents of illegal hare coursing double across Essex

PUBLISHED: 08:28 05 October 2018

Hare coursing has more than doubled in Essex in recent years.

Hare coursing has more than doubled in Essex in recent years.

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Hare coursing incidents in Essex have more than doubled since 2013, new figures reveal.

A freedom of information request to Essex Police showed that there were 393 incidents in 2017-18, compared to 141 in 2013-14.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Hare coursing is a particularly cruel ‘sport’, so much so that it has been banned in England since 2004.

“The idea of abusing dogs, setting them on hares to chase and kill just for fun and a quick bet is abhorrent and we hope that the animal abusers are brought to justice.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Our rural policing team spend a lot of time working with farmers and members of the rural community to disrupt hare coursing and related criminal activity.

“We are continually working to encourage members of the public to report any sign of hare coursing and have a team dedicated to investigating rural crimes such as this.”

MP for Saffron Walden, Kemi Badenoch, said: “Hare coursing and similar traveller-related crimes are increasing all over the country in rural counties from Cumbria to Cornwall as they have evolved into avenues for illegal gambling.

“This is a huge concern to local farmers in particular, who have to pay the price for the damage to their homes and livelihoods. I have met with farmers and representatives of the NFU to discuss policy proposals that can tackle this issue. I do not believe a prison sentence is a big enough deterrent because the gambling is so profitable for the hare coursers.

“I will continue to explore ways to increase the financial cost of these illegal activities.”

Mrs Badenoch praised Essex Police’s rural policing team but said they faced having to cover “a large geographical area”. The MP said she had raised the issue in parliament of finding new, modern technology to deal with evolving crimes such as hare coursing to ensure the perpetrators were not “one step ahead of our farmers and the police”.

The spokesman for Essex Police added: “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.”

“With so much of Essex being rural, we need to make our countryside a no-go area for hare coursers.”

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