Lincolnshire Police to lead 12 forces in national hare coursing strategy
A national effort to tackle hare coursing by using “intrusive and disruptive” tactics is being led by Lincolnshire Police.
At least 12 forces across England are to unite under Operation Galileo, a targeted police response to illegal hare coursing across Lincolnshire, when the new hunting season starts in September.
Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, force lead on rural crime for Lincolnshire Police, met with counterparts from other “high-volume” hare coursing areas, such as Cambridgeshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire, to come up with new tools to take on organised hare coursing in South Holland, the Deepings and other rural parts of England.
Mr Vickers said: “Last year, when I became force lead for rural crime in Lincolnshire, I went out to get a better understanding of what the policing of hare coursing looked like nationally.
“But I struggled to get that insight so one of our force’s criminal analysts contacted a number of other police forces to find out whether they had suffered from hare coursing.
“Early last month, we brought the four forces that are very high-volume, in terms of hare coursing, together and started to agree on a way forward.
“Then on Friday, we met with rural crime lead officers from 11 other forces to discuss how we can work more closely on policing hare coursing in a more joined-up way.”
New tactics to be adopted for the 2019-20 season include the compiling of a list of the most "high-risk offenders" involved in hare coursing nationally.
There will also be the use of civil injunctions and financial investigations which could result in cash being seized from hare coursing gangs involved in illegal gambling.
Mr Vickers said: "The 12 forces have agreed on a number of common tactics in order to prevent more offences at an earlier stage, rather than displacing them across force areas.
"We will all use Operation Galileo as the national brand, identifying the highest risk offenders who aren't just those we speak to most often.
"There will be a list of offenders we need to focus our attention on, those who are involved in the organising of hair coursing.
"We'll be up front with them and look to disrupt them at every opportunity, seizing dogs and vehicles, conducting financial investigations and doing some work around civil injunctions after getting some positive legal advice around using civil law to target the offenders.
"There will also be some work to develop intelligence based on information from the public, including Crimestoppers, about those involved in hare coursing.
"If we find that offenders are involved in hare coursing nationally, rather than low-level criminality, the law allows us to be more intrusive.
"It's a big step forward that 12 forces have agreed to work on this and it's a really positive development that Lincolnshire is taking the lead on this.
"Yet it's entirely right that we do so because it's our rural communities who are suffering from hare coursing."