People are being urged to help crack down on on hare coursing in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire
The illegal events can be lucrative for criminal gangs who often live stream the event
People across rural south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire are being urged by Crimestoppers to help crack down on hare coursing.
The leading crime charity is launching an eight-week campaign with Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold and Northamptonshire Police.
“People are encouraged to report suspicious behaviour and those who are involved, rather than confront it.
“Hare coursing is where dogs – often greyhounds or lurchers - are used to chase, catch and kill hares,” said Northamptonshire Police.
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“The illegal events can be lucrative for criminal gangs who often live stream the event.
“It takes place on areas of flat, open land, accessed by trespassing, where the dogs can easily and visibly pursue the hare for sport.”
Urban gangs travel hundreds of miles to target and kill hares all over South Leicestershire as well as across the Northamptonshire border.
“We are now in hare coursing season as many crops have been felled, which leaves clear open fields.
“Hare coursing normally takes place either at dusk or dawn.
“It’s typically carried out by large groups of people or gangs, who travel long distances in convey,” said police.
“Anyone with information about those involved in hare coursing is asked to speak up 100 per cent anonymously by passing on what they know using the charity’s simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555 111.”
Farmers are often left with broken fences and battered gates as criminals driving powerful 4x4s smash their way on to their land.
“Once in a field it is common practice to film the chase from a moving vehicle, which can cause significant damage to the field and crops.
“Fear, intimidation and violence are real concerns inflicted by coursers on land owners, farmers and anyone who may question the activity of those who are taking part,” said police.
You can help fight hare coursing by making Crimestoppers or police aware if you see any of the following activity:
• Groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps near a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path. This is often the most obvious sign
• A cluster of estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans with evidence of dogs inside
• Vehicles travelling in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders
• You see a gathering of people using binoculars to spot hares
• You see coursers walking along the edge of a field to frighten a hare into the open
Lydia Patsalides, East Midlands Regional Manager at Crimestoppers, said: “Hare coursing can incur a fine of up to £5,000 and those taking part may also have their vehicles and dogs seized.
“The act itself is also extremely aggravating and damaging to farmers and landowners, who are often powerless to stop it.”
She added: “We are appealing for information about it and through this campaign, we are highlighting the signs to spot and what you can do to keep your community safe from the criminal gangs involved.
“If you have any concerns about someone who may be involved in hare coursing, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go online at crimestoppers-uk.org.
“You can give information to our charity 100 per cent anonymously about this or any other crime. “Alternatively, you can contact Northamptonshire Police, especially if you feel in danger.
“Crimestoppers gives people who feel unable to speak directly to police a voice to talk about what they know. “In over 32 years since we began, we have always kept our promise of anonymity to the millions of people who have trusted us.”