Lincolnshire Police has taken delivery of the latest weapons in its fight against hare coursing across the county, including South Holland.
Ten all-terrain Ford Kugas have been added to the ranks of Operation Galileo, an annual campaign against gangs hunting hares with dogs while trespassing on farmland.
When our officers are trying to keep others safe, it is important to me that they feel safe to tackle the conditionsBill Skelly, Chief Constable, Lincolnshire Police
The vehicles will be used around the clock and throughout the year to chase hare coursers across fields, farm tracks and on icy and flooded road.
Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Bill Skelly said: “These vehicles will give us tremendous flexibility in tackling crime and will improve our service to Lincolnshire.
“With these vehicles our officers will be able to go where they previously couldn’t in a police car, such as into a crop field, to find where a stolen vehicle has been hidden or to pursue a hare courser trying to escape on an off-road track.
“Doing so in the past would have caused significant damage to a police car so, instead, officers had to accept lifts from farmers or trawl through fields on foot to reach a crime scene.
“Our distinctive county has vast areas of challenging terrain, with low hills and steep valleys, which can be treacherous in bad weather.
“When our officers are trying to keep others safe, it is important to me that they feel safe to tackle the conditions.”
Lincolnshire Police confirmed that since April, its officers have seized 35 dogs and 11 vehicles in connection with hare coursing offences.
So far, 21 people have been arrested and another four have been reported for summons to court, with police dealing with about 65 incidents a week.
Mr Skelly said: “Now our officers can get where they need to quickly and safely, improving the service to our communities and keeping them safe.”
Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said: “I made a promise to the residents of this county that I will put rural community safety high on the list of priorities and making sure the right equipment is available is a crucial step in delivering on that promise.
“The new vehicles, alongside drones and quadbikes,– will give our frontline officers the capability to tackle crime wherever it occurs, in all weathers, both day and night.
“It will allow officers to get to the remote parts of the county and should, in conjunction with the new Rural Community Safety Strategy, make people not just feel safer but be safer.”