CLA calls on police bosses to make a stand against hare coursing

CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward, Inspector Jon Papworth of Norfolk Police and Farmwatch’s To

CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward, Inspector Jon Papworth of Norfolk Police and Farmwatch’s Tony Bone at the 2014 launch of a hare coursing warning sign for farmers and landowners in the county. - Credit: Archant

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is urging police bosses across the region to ensure tackling hare coursing is treated as a high priority ahead of the conclusion of this year’s harvest.

Illegal activity traditionally begins to increase in the final third of the year after the majority of crops are cleared from the region’s fields, and CLA East regional surveyor Tim Woodward is urging Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to make a stand against the crime.

He said: “While theft is without doubt the major concern for farmers and rural businesses, wildlife crimes, such as hare coursing, have a huge impact on rural communities and conservation efforts.

“Hare coursers are hardened criminals, who are engaged in illegal betting involving large sums of money, and they are prepared to use violence if disturbed – and many of our members have been victims. Evidence shows that coursers are frequently also involved in other criminal activity too.

“As well as the distress hare coursing causes rural communities, it can lead to crops being destroyed and property damaged, and has a detrimental effect on wildlife and the environment.”

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Mr Woodward says that getting PCCs to boost police presence in the countryside would be vital in tackling hare coursing, as well as other rural crimes.

He added: “Research says that almost a third of people did not report the last crime they fell victim to in a rural area. This cannot continue. A strong police presence is required to encourage people to report what they see – as are swift response times and increased engagement with rural communities.

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“If the police can work effectively with farmers, landowners, and those living in the countryside, they can send out a strong message to criminals, such as hare coursers, that they are not welcome in the region.”

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