PCC pledges support for hare coursing campaign

Tim Passmore today pledged his support to a pro-active campaign against hare coursing.

Under Operation Galileo, Suffolk Constabulary will work with officers from Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to take strong action against those involved in this illegal activity.  Police are warning those who choose to commit this offence that the vehicles they use could be seized and crushed.

This year’s campaign will run until March 2014, this is when hare coursers typically become active as large tracts of land are left without standing crops. During this period, offenders are known to travel to the region from around the country to hunt hares with dogs.

Reports of hare coursing have been increasing in recent years and in the period September 2012 to March 2013, over 300 incidents were reported in Suffolk.

Officers in the county will be carrying out patrols in areas identified as potential targets for offenders and will be taking strong action against anyone found to be hare coursing. Police will seek to prosecute those who are responsible and the vehicles used in such activities can be seized by police and could be crushed.

Tim said, “I fully support this hare coursing campaign, it links directly with my Police and Crime Plan.

“Earlier this year, following feedback on my policing plan for Suffolk, I championed a dedicated rural crime team to focus on crimes such as livestock rustling, metal and oil thefts and wildlife crime. I am delighted that this unit is now operational and that the Constabulary is supporting this team to take strong action against those involved in hare coursing.

“The rural economy is important to Suffolk and I am committed to support it. It is not just about farming, there are lots of businesses that rely on visitors to boost the economy and it is crucial that Suffolk has the reputation of being a safe county in which to live, work, travel and invest.

“I want the Constabulary to recruit more special constables to bolster the newly formed rural crime team and make use of their local knowledge.”

He said: “These specials would understand the rural economy and be powerful ambassadors for our Suffolk towns and villages.”

Tim added, “The additional challenge is to supply officers with the right equipment, including suitable four-wheel drive vehicles and possibly police horses and extra dog units. That is something I will be discussing with the Chief Constable.”

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb said: “Being a county with large rural areas, we are often targetted by hare coursers who trespass on private land to carry out this illegal activity.

“It can cause distress, alarm and inconvenience to our rural communities and we are committed to working with the public, and landowners in particular, to stop those responsible.

“It is extremely important that we work together to tackle this area of crime and I would ask that anyone who sees hare coursing being carried out to report it to police immediately. We want these people to know that these offences will not be tolerated, we will use our full powers to bring those responsible to justice and will seize and destroy any vehicles involved.”

Members of the public who witness hare coursing taking place are advised not to approach the participants but to phone police immediately on 101, or on 999 in an emergency.

Tim is pictured above with (l-r) Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb and PC Mark Bryant, rural crime officer.