STAFFORD PROCTOR writes this week’s WORD ON THE GROUND column...
Lincolnshire countryside has recently experienced an escalation in illegal hare coursing.
The indicators are big dirty 4x4s from outside our county filled with big, aggressive men and panting greyhounds. They drive across the countryside with no concern for crop damage looking for fields to set their dogs to chase and kill hares.
Lincolnshire Police are doing what they can with limited resources and having some success with vehicle and dog confiscation.
They desperately need the support of all who live in the countryside as eyes and ears on the ground.
Anyone - including farmers - can identify and monitor hare coursers, report the crime, track the coursers’ route and assist the police in apprehending these criminals.
Let us not forget hare coursers also bring verbal abuse, crop damage, machinery theft, intimidation and physical violence to our county and onto our farms.
The police and NFU regularly meet with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and magistrates. Both the CPS and magistrates need to be informed and educated in the hare coursers’ impact on the rural community.
The laws covering penalties for hare coursing need to be updated and increased. The current fines are not sufficient to act as a deterrent. Police need more powers to confiscate and hold the dogs.
We need to keep reminding our MPs that the Lincolnshire police force is one of the most poorly funded per head of population – and we are a large county and extremely rural. The police are operating with one hand tied behind their backs.