Hare coursing numbers have dropped in the Fens since last year but officers say it is still 'one of the biggest issues' in the region
PUBLISHED: 17:26 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 05 August 2019
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The number of recorded hare coursing incidents in the Fens has dropped since last year, but it still remains one of the region's biggest issues.
Number of hare coursing incidents in the Fens and Cambridgeshire:
• April 2018 – March 2019 : 1,265
• April 2017 – March 2018: 1,393
• April 2016 – March 2017: 1,069
• April 2015 – March 2016: 742
From April 2017 to March 2018 nearly 1,400 incidents were recorded in Cambridgeshire. This has seen a drop of more than 100 incidents.
Over the past year police were called to 1,265 incidents. Last month, the police control room received 34 calls to courses operating throughout east and south Cambridgeshire.
DC Tom Nuttall said: "Hare coursing continues to be one of the biggest issues our rural communities face.
"Tackling it remains a priority for the Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) and we will continue to do what we can to bring those responsible to justice but we need your help."
Hare coursing, illegal under the Hunting Act 2004, causes damage to crops, harms animals and threatens the rural community.
In October last year, four hare coursers were handed the Cambridgeshire's first county court injunction, banning them from entering any farm land from July until March.
The hare coursing season typically starts in September when fields have been harvested, however the weather this year has meant many have already been cut and are now prime surfaces for the blood sport.
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DC Tom Nuttall added: "The most obvious sign of hare coursing is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area with dogs, perhaps by a gateway to farmland or on a grass verge.
"I would urge people to report any suspicions, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
"Those caught could face a criminal behaviour order, seizure of vehicles and other property, a fine and a driving ban."
The fresh police appeal is part of the #SaferSummer campaign, which aims to prevent crime and keep people safe during the school holidays.
Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing or trees or even barriers like barrels filled with concrete.
Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place is asked to contact police immediately on 999 and provide officers with a description of the people involved, any registration numbers and vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel.
A spokesman for the police said: "Its important people don't confront hare coursers or put themselves at risk.
"If you have information about hare coursing and it's not currently happening, or have been a victim of the crime, please call 101 or report online at www.cambs.police.uk/report.
"If a crime is in progress call 999."