Talks on ‘plague’ of hare coursing held in Spalding

Assistant Chief Constable for local policing Peter Davies speaks during a meeting on hare coursing at Springfields Events & Conference Centre, Spalding.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Assistant Chief Constable for local policing Peter Davies speaks during a meeting on hare coursing at Springfields Events & Conference Centre, Spalding. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Threats to kill, property and vehicles damaged, crops and farmland trespassed on and families unable to sleep for fear of their lives.

These are some examples of the shocking impact on farmers of hare coursers who have targeted South Holland over the last four months.

The stark plight faced by people living and working in the countryside was made clear during a meeting between police, farmers, NFU officials and John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, in Spalding just before Christmas.

During the meeting, which took place at Springfields Events and Conference Centre, last Wednesday, one farmer said: “I’ve felt a bit underwhelmed by what the police had to say because you haven’t grasped the severity of this issue.

“How can an activity (hare coursing) that is illegal be allowed to proliferate on the internet for all to consume?

“Right now, we’re under seige while the police are a laughing stock and the community has had enough.

“I think you (police) need to up your game because the hare coursers are running rings around you.”

The meeting was called by the NFU Lincolnshire after changes to Operation Galileo, the police response to hare coursing gangs in Lincolnshire, which saw neighbourhood policing teams take over from a dedicated unit of up to seven officers.

So far, 131 people have been reported for summons to court in connection with hare coursing offences, 11 vehicles seized and another 44 people dealt with for vehicle and/or road traffic matters.

Asst Chief Constable Peter Davies, who leads local policing in Lincolnshire, said: “I understand the impact hare coursing has on the farming community and the last thing I’d like is for farmers to feel that we’re not interested, because we are.

“For the last few years, we’ve had a team of officers who have been the Operation Galileo unit and their task has been to go around the county and sort out hare coursing.

“They did a very good job but a team of six officers, spread across an area of 2,600 square miles, is not going to be able to have an impact on a problem that pops up in areas across the county.”

Supt Timmins revealed that policing levels, at any one time and in any one place in South Holland, were decided on a “life at risk” basis and reports of hare coursing have to be dealt with alongside sudden deaths, domestic violence, crashes and burglaries.

But a farm worker who also spoke at the meeting said: “The police have no idea what we’re going through and I know a farmer who didn’t attend the meeting because he was too frightened to leave his wife and family at home alone in daylight.

“I’ve lost three-quarters of a stone in weight since this started happening and my family life has been affected by it as well.”

Mr Hayes pledged to meet Home Office ministers to look at stiffer fines and other penalties for hare coursing.

Previously...

HARE COURSING: Police explain their position

Hare coursing: it’s still zero tolerance

HARE COURSING: Farmer hits out at police