Disbelief in South Holland as police figures show fall in hare coursing

HARE COURSING: PC Nick Willey and Chief Insp Jim Tyner with PC Gez Shillito of Northamptonshire Police operating a drone at the launch of Operation Galileo for 2016-17.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG010916-112TW.
HARE COURSING: PC Nick Willey and Chief Insp Jim Tyner with PC Gez Shillito of Northamptonshire Police operating a drone at the launch of Operation Galileo for 2016-17. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG010916-112TW.

Reports of hare coursing across Lincolnshire have dropped by nearly 20 per cent so far this season, according to police figures.

A Freedom of Information request from the Spalding Guardian to Lincolnshire Police for the number of hare coursing incidents between September 1 and December 31, 2016, showed a fall of 268, compared with the same period in 2015.

Reported hare coursing across Lincolnshire fell from 1,367 in 2015 to 1,099 last year, a 19.6 per cent reduction.

In South Holland over the same period, reported hare coursing dropped by 46 from 511 in 2015 to 465 last year, down by nine per cent.

But one South Holland farmer, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “Nobody in our community will believe these figures as we’ve seen a relentless invasion by the coursers.

“The aggression and intensity has got worse and I had them chase me on Friday when I had children in the car.

I believe the steps being taken to address the issue of hare coursing are having a positive effect, but we are not complacent and the problems are still of concern to those affected

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones

“The police are losing the battle, not winning it, and all the statistics in the world won’t convince me of anything else.”

Police held a hare coursing “day of action” in Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas two weeks ago as part of its Operation Galileo initiative.

Just days earlier, ten men were caught in Deeping St Nicholas where police seized four dogs and a Land Rover.

But the success was undermined amongst farmers by a police tweet which said: “Dogs seized from suspected harecoursers are being returned (as) farmer/witness won’t give statement, so no prosecution.”

Every district in Lincolnshire has seen a fall in the number of hare coursing incidents reported in 2016, according to figures from Lincolnshire Police.

There was a nine per cent drop in South Holland for the period between September 1 and December 31 last year, compared to the same period in 2015.

The figures, released under a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian, also showed a 9.375 per cent drop in South Kesteven (from 128 to 116) and a 32 per cent fall in Boston Borough (from 150 to 102) for the same period.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: “I believe the steps being taken to address the issue of hare coursing are having a positive effect. But we are not complacent and the problems are still of concern to those affected.

“We will continue to seek new and effective ways to improve rural community safety and one of the steps we have already taken is to work in collaboration with neighbouring forces.

“In addition, we are working with local people as well to meet these challenges and we will continue to strengthen those partnerships.”

But ex-NFU Holland (Lincs) branch chairman Ian Stancer said: “Certain areas are being terrorised and it doesn’t help when police recently tweeted that a farmer was too frightened of reprisals to give a statement and press charges against arrested hare coursers.

“That information can only harm the cause against these violent men so why spread it?”