New Lincolnshire chief and farmers to meet about hare coursing

FARMERS' FORUM: Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly.  Photo supplied.

FARMERS' FORUM: Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly. Photo supplied.

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Farmers from South Holland are meeting the new Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police today, with hare coursing top of the agenda.

Bill Skelly, who took charge of policing the county two weeks ago, will hear from farmers plagued by gangs of hare coursers in South Holland and the Deepings at a meeting near Boston organised by NFU East Midlands.

Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire is also expected at the meeting which takes place amid growing skepticism about recent figures which showed that reported hare coursing had fallen in 2016.

Figures obtained by the Spalding Guardian from Lincolnshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act showed that reports of hare coursing in South Holland from September to December 2016 were 465, compared to 511 for the same period in 2015.

Donington farmer Chris Wray, chairman of the NFU’s Holland (Lincs) branch, said: “I’ve been very fortunate myself in that I’ve managed to keep away from the hare coursing problem.

“But I’m quite involved behind the scenes with those who have been directly affected by it and I can’t quite believe the figures from Lincolnshire Police because it does seem to have been a lot worse this season.”

I’m quite involved behind the scenes with those who have been directly affected by hare coursing and I can’t quite believe the figures as it does seem to have been a lot worse this season

Chris Wray, chairman of NFU Holland (Lincs) branch

Gordon Corner, incoming regional director for NFU East Midlands, said: “These figures don’t correspond to what is being reported by farmers and growers who have seen a marked increase in this illegal activity across the region.

“During 2015/16, the (ahre coursing) figures were regularly reported every two weeks by Lincolnshire Police to the NFU.

“However, this year that has not been the case and Cambridgeshire has reported a 40 per cent increase in the same period.

“Therefore, verification of these figures is not possible.”

In an interview with the Guardian last week, Mr Skelly indicated that he was aware of the issues surrounding hare coursing and rural crime in general after just a week in the job.

Mr Skelly said: “I’m aware that the rural community feels strongly about issues like hare coursing and I will be meeting members of the farming industry on Friday.

“There are a number of key people within Lincolnshire, both elected and from statutory bodies, who I’m yet to have the pleasure of meeting and getting to know.”