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Intimidating tactics by hare coursing gangs are getting worse, police warn

Hares playing in a field.  Picture: FRANCES CRICKMORE

Hares playing in a field. Picture: FRANCES CRICKMORE

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The intimidating and violent tactics used by hare coursing gangs to prevent capture are getting worse, according to Suffolk police’s top rural crime officer.

Damaged caused by hare coursers Picture: ARCHANTDamaged caused by hare coursers Picture: ARCHANT

Sergeant Brian Calver, from the force’s rural crime team, has warned that gangs taking part in the illegal blood sport will do “all they can to get away”, with catapults fired at police and farmers last year.

Sgt Calver said hare coursing activity is most common between September and March but can start earlier.

“The harvest seems to get earlier every year and soon as that first crop is down to stubble, they start getting active,” he said.

“The numbers are fairly low to start with but as soon as we get a cooler period, a weekend of rain like we had last weekend, and the ground is softer, you do see a vast spike in it.

Sgt Brian Calver, of the rural and wildlfe crime team  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSSgt Brian Calver, of the rural and wildlfe crime team Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

“It has got worse and their tactics seem to get worse every year. There’s no doubt about it, the threats, the violence, the intimidation, the tactics they will use to prevent members of the public reporting and police catching them are getting worse.

“We’ve had catapults last year fired at police vehicles, catapults fired at farmer’s vehicles, they will do all they can to get away and all they’re doing is putting the public at greater risk year on year.”

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Sgt Calver said a scheme is now up and running in Suffolk to provide free top soil for farmers to build earth barriers or bunds to protect entrances to their fields.

Suffolk's rural crime officers with PCC Tim Passmore  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYSuffolk's rural crime officers with PCC Tim Passmore Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

“The best thing they [farmers] can do is ditching and bunding and putting very large tree trunks or obstructions across the entrances that they don’t need to use,” he said.

“The bottom line is that these people want to get in there quick, do their dastardly deeds and get out again quick. If they get across multiple fields and use multiple entrances, they’ve got freedom.

“We are running a scheme, started early this year, together with the private sector where free of charge we are going to be able to build earth bunds along vulnerable field lines.

“We’ve been in touch with the NFU (National Farmers’ Union) and the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) about this and I would urge any farmers that wish to take up the scheme where we can provide them with free top soil to build earth banks to get in touch and we can put them in touch with right people.”

Sgt Calver urged anyone witnessing any suspicious behaviour to call 999, and to make a discreet call if possible to aid police.

He added: “One thing I would urge witnesses and farmers to do is if they see it, rather than make it obvious, call us discreetly concealed from view. I know that’s not always possible but if they don’t know anyone’s there, as much as they like to get in and out, they will continue.

“If they’ve got good numbers of hares and they’re enjoying themselves then we know from video footage we’ve seen that they will spend a considerable amount of time in a field.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about the earth bund scheme can contact rwp@suffolk.pnn.police.uk


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