County crime commissioner backs campaign to help police tackle hare coursing
Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is backing a campaign to give police stronger powers to tackle hare coursing.
Rupert Matthews wants stronger action taken against the perpetrators of the illegal practice, which has been carried out in rural areas of Melton and Rutland.
The National Farmers’ Union, the Countryside Alliance and the Country Land and Business Association have written a joint letter to Peers in the House of Lords urging them to back an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently being considered in Parliament.
The amendments, which have been tabled by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, would extend the current seizure and forfeiture powers for poaching offences.
This would enable financially-stretched police forces to recover the kennelling costs incurred where dogs have been seized as part of an illegal hare coursing operation.
The move is aimed at addressing the challenge of limited policing resources and would provide a stronger deterrent to prevent illegal hare coursing activity in rural communities.
It would also enable the courts to ban convicted offenders from having dogs and enable courts to deliver harsher penalties by lifting the existing limit on fines.
Mr Matthews said: “Rural communities and businesses are deeply concerned about illegal hare coursing and they have every right to be.
“Not only are these activities barbaric; livelihoods, land and property are being damaged or destroyed in the process.
“There are also incidents of farmers being threatened and harassed, with many living in fear.”
He added: “It is important this legislation is brought forward swiftly to give police greater powers to respond to these problems without being left out of pocket.
“As Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Police and Crime Commissioner, I take illegal hare coursing very seriously and will do everything I can to support this amendment and see that rural communities are reassured we take their safety and wellbeing very seriously.”