Rural patrols target hare coursing scourge
TRAINED police specials are on the prowl to prevent hare coursers as hi-tech operations force the criminals out of their traditional hunting grounds.
Incidents of the brutal bloodsport, outlawed in 2005 following the introduction of the Hunting Act, are on the rise in Leicestershire.
This may be due in part to increased use of technology by neighbouring police forces, where hare coursing has long been an issue.
In Lincolnshire, officers have used drones to carry out search patrols in isolated spots, an initiative called Operation Galileo.
Now, special constables from Leicestershire Constabulary are working with Lincolnshire col- leagues and local farmers to target coursers as part of this wider operation.
Special Constable Joseph Dibb said: “As a special, I’m a fully trained police officer and can branch out into a number of specialities - rural crime being one of them. The opportunity arose to support the neighbourhood teams in Rutland in their fight against hare coursing, so I decided to expand my policing knowledge and help a different community. I’m authorised to respond to 999 calls so can provide rapid response to reports of hare coursing in Leicestershire.”
Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with dogs, usually greyhounds and other sighthounds. Traditionally offences begin to increase after crops have been harvested in autumn, and continue until spring.
As well as the cruelty to hares the activity results in damage to crops and fields and farmers may even be threatened with violence.
Police say there is often a link between coursing and organised crime, with thousands of pounds changing hands betting on which of two dogs will be the quickest to turn and catch the hare.
Sergeant Nick Woodrow, the force’s lead for rural crime, said: “Operation Galileo is a regional operation to combat hare coursing. The assistance of the Special Constabulary has enabled us to increase our patrol activity as well as give reassurance to our communities that we are proactively tackling the issue. Intelligence from members of the community is vital, and we would encourage anyone who suspects someone of committing the offence to report it to us.”
The force is currently recruiting special constables, who are volunteer police officers with the same powers as regular officers.
If interested visit the website: leics.police.uk/join-us/specials, or come along to an information seminar at police HQ in Enderby on Wednesday October 25 from 6pm to 8pm. Register interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with contact details.
Special constables have been drafted in to help prevent hare coursing across the county