‘Stay out of our county,’ police tell criminal gangs

Insp Andy Ham of the East Midlands Operational Support Service and the officer-in-charge of Operation Galileo.
Insp Andy Ham of the East Midlands Operational Support Service and the officer-in-charge of Operation Galileo.

An annual crackdown on hare coursing gangs targeting South Holland has been widened to take on criminals in the countryside.

Lincolnshire Police’s Operation Galileo campaign, involving a dedicated team of officers charged with arresting and prosecuting people hunting hares in the area with dogs, has been given the go-ahead to combat rural crime generally.

The operation was launched at the same time as a vehicle used by two men from Holbeach to go hare coursing in Sutton St James was crushed after a court ordered its seizure.

William Gaskin (37) and Mark Gaskin (40) of Rose View Drive, were found guilty of hunting a wild mammal with a dog and trespassing in pursuit of game last November after a trial at Boston Magistrates Court.

Both men were fined £800 each and told to pay £300 costs.

Insp Andy Ham of the East Midlands Operational Support Service, officer-in-charge of Operation Galileo, said: “Several hare coursing cases from last year are still being dealt with by the courts even now.

“There have been some very positive results, including the case in Sutton St James last November which resulted in the offenders’ Subaru Forrested being crushed.

“Other offenders convicted over the last two months have also been banned from entering Lincolnshire with a dog and we absolutely intend to use the learning and expertise from the last couple of years of Operation Galileo again this time.

“There will be a dedicated response to hare coursing, but it is also intended to broaden the remit of the former Galileo team to cover rural crime in general.”

The wider “remit” has been backed by Simon Fisher, NFU county advisor for South Holland, who said: “Tt’s very welcome that the police are yet again supporting the rural community in respect of trying to reduce the incidents of hare coursing in the county.

“It’s a positive move from our point of view.”