Operation Galileo team press for change in the law so that courts can order hare coursers to pay the costs of seizing and kenneling dogs caught in Lincolnshire
Courts may soon have powers to order hare coursers targeting South Holland to pay the costs of police seizing and keeping their dogs.
New tactics to be employed by Lincolnshire Police's Operation Galileo team are to be discussed during a series of meetings this month.
But a plan to encourage magistrates to impose financial penalties on hare coursing gangs that use dogs to illegally hunt hares on farmland in South Holland could be in place for the coming season.
Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, force lead on rural crime for Lincolnshire Police, said: "One of the things we've been seeking is a change in the law that would allow courts to impose an order so that the offenders would pay the costs of keeping dogs in kennels.
"Lincolnshire is one of the few forces that has been kenneling dogs that police officers have seized.
"But that costs us tens of thousands of pounds and, at the moment, courts can't impose cost orders because the legislation doesn't allow it.
"The representations we've been making to the NFU, Country Land and Business Owners Association and neighbouring police forces has resulted in support for our approach to ask for the courts to have the powers and ability to impose fines and a requirement for offenders to pay the police for the costs of hare coursing.
"If we can get the change in legislation, that would be really helpful, instead of the costs of kenneling falling onto Lincolnshire taxpayers."
During the 2018-19 hare coursing season, reports fell by 36 per cent across Lincolnshire to a level not seen since 2014-15.
Between September 2018 and March 2019, 873 reports of hare coursing where received by police, nearly 500 fewer than for the same period a year earlier.
Also in 2018-19, 24 dogs and 13 vehicles were seized by officers across Lincolnshire.
Mr Vickers said: "The work we're doing may take two season to come to full effect but, as a region, we'll continue to see reductions in hare coursing.
"The results are positive, but there's more to do."