Officers teaming up with partners in national hare coursing clampdown
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Officers from the south Staffordshire local policing team (LPT) are teaming up with a bordering force and partners to tackle illegal hare coursing in the area.
We are supporting Bradford Estates, alongside West Mercia Police, in a national initiative called Operation Galileo.
Bradford Estates are responsible for over 12,000 acres of land across the Shropshire and Staffordshire border, and have been operating in the county for over 900 years.
The operation will see officers working with local residents, farmers and landowners to combat a criminal activity know as ‘hare coursing’.
A criminal offence under law, the act sees dogs used to chase and kill hares, with substantial sums of money being bet by organisers.
These acts are commonplace in the autumn, as harvested fields provide less cover for hares to escape.
We recently became one of the thirty forces in the UK who have pledged their support to the operation, alongside a national taskforce which has been formed to tackle these issues for rural communities.
Our officers are helping Bradford Estates to raise local awareness for this criminality and are urging residents to report anything suspicious via their virtual neighbourhood watch WhatsApp group, which involves residents, businesses, tenants and farmers who are spread over the Staffordshire and West Mercia area.
To combat the problem, new government legislation was introduced last August (2022), which provides stronger sentencing and increased powers to tackle hare coursing nationally.
This can include an unlimited fine and a possible prison sentence of up to six months.
Speaking of the initiative, Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer, PSCO Louise Jones, said: “Hare coursing is a recurring problem across rural communities. Not only is there the issue of animal welfare, but the wider impact on the community.
“This can include vandalism of property, loss of income for farmers and landowners, theft, intimidation, and road traffic issues due to the driving of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles.
“Prevention is the focus of Operation Galileo. Residents living in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence.
“We are asking residents to report any unusual activity or patterns of behaviour they may witness. This helps us to build up a better understanding of hare coursing in the area, and ultimately prosecute those involved.”
Bradford Estates Property Director Steve Farrow said: “As we enter hare coursing season, we are working in close partnership with the West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces on Operation Galileo.
“Hare coursing is a concern in our local community at this time of year and we urge residents to report and remain vigilant to disrupt those criminals who course hares.”