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New weapons in armour for fight against hare coursing in Lincolnshire




OPERATION GALILEO: Lincolnshire Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and NFU regional director Gordon Corner launch this season's anti-hare coursing drive across the county. Photo supplied by Lincolnshire Police.
OPERATION GALILEO: Lincolnshire Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and NFU regional director Gordon Corner launch this season's anti-hare coursing drive across the county. Photo supplied by Lincolnshire Police.

New vehicles equipped to hold dogs taken off hare coursers and tackle the most testing countryside have been unveiled at the launch of Operation Galileo 2018-19.

Lincolnshire Police’s annual crackdown on criminal gangs that trespass on farmland before setting dogs loose to chase and kill hares also comes with a promise this year “to take the fight” to hare coursers by targeting them outside of the county.

The operation, launched on Tuesday, aims to build on the progress of 2017-18 when reported hare coursing across South Holland and Boston fell by 25 per cent, from 1,009 in 2016-17 to 752 a year later.

Superintendent Phil Vickers, force lead on rural crime, said: "Last year, we saw some really positive results and had some successes in reducing the number of hare coursing incidents across the county.

Superintendent Phil Vickers (2685977)
Superintendent Phil Vickers (2685977)

"We know that some of the new tactics tried last year proved particularly successful, such as seizing dogs which was something that offenders really didn't like.

"The feedback from farmers and communities has been really supportive and we're going to build on that this year.

"But there will be a slight change in the way we work in that we'll be going out of the county as we look to target the top offenders who come from all over the country to commit offences in Lincolnshire.

"We'll be taking the fight to offenders in order to reduce the number of reports in 2018.

As well as three new Ford Rangers, the drones return to again to tackle rural crime, along with quadbikes and Ford Kugas which the force uses flexibly in responding to incidents.

One of the new Ford Rangers next to an all-terrain vehicle to be used during this year's Operation Galileo exercise. Photo supplied by Lincolnshire Police. (3486798)
One of the new Ford Rangers next to an all-terrain vehicle to be used during this year's Operation Galileo exercise. Photo supplied by Lincolnshire Police. (3486798)

As well as three new Ford Rangers, the drones return to again to tackle rural crime, along with quadbikes and Ford Kugas which the force uses flexibly in responding to incidents.

The new Rangers will have greater capacity to safely hold seized dogs and more power tackle the most treacherous rural terrains.

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: "I made a commitment to ensure that our force has the right tools for the job to combat these gangs and we have already made great strides in that area.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones at last November's road safety summit in Grantham. Photo by Graham Newton. (2428617)
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones at last November's road safety summit in Grantham. Photo by Graham Newton. (2428617)

"The behaviour of these organised criminals from across the country goes far beyond the illegal act of hunting hares with dogs and can involve significant risk of serious harm to our community.

"It will not be tolerated in Lincolnshire and the police here are now more operationally ready for these criminals than ever before.

"In addition, the work both the Chief Constable and I have done to ensure the criminal justice system understands the gravity of these crimes will support them in keeping our communities safer than ever.

"The message is simple, Lincolnshire is not a safe place for criminals of any kind and if you come here to course then expect to leave your dogs in our care and have the full weight of the law used against you."

NFU Regional Director Gordon Corner, said: "Last year’s encouraging reduction in hare coursing incidents needs to be built on again and, with the increased resources available to Lincolnshire Police, we hope to see this happen.

Gordon Corner, NFU Regional Director. Photo supplied. (3487150)
Gordon Corner, NFU Regional Director. Photo supplied. (3487150)

"Hare coursing remains a crime that is difficult to deal with because, by its nature, it is mobile and not easy to track.

"This is why we will be asking our members to report every incident over the coming season because Lincolnshire Police needs to know about all rural crimes taking place as they will be recorded, giving us all a truer reflection of the problems in the county."

CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said: "At time of year when we know there is likely to be a spike in incidents of hare coursing,it is encouraging to see Lincolnshire Police taking the issue seriously.

"Many of our members are extremely concerned about the crime taking place on their land due to the damage done to crops and property and the threats of violence that can occur.

"We urge the police to be relentless in their work to tackle hare coursing and send a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Lincolnshire and beyond."

John Hayes, MP for South Holland and the Deepings, said: "The menace of illegal hare coursers damaging the environment by entering land unlawfully and causing mayhem must be taken very seriously indeed.

John Hayes MP (3207043)
John Hayes MP (3207043)

"Operation Galileo has shown a positive effect in that the number of incidents fell and we must now redouble our efforts to protect the interests of local people and wildlife."



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