The threatening, intimidating and violent people behind hare coursing are ‘living outside the law’ says top rural police officer

Sgt Brian Calver of the Rural and Wildlife Crime Team in Suffolk Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Sgt Brian Calver of the Rural and Wildlife Crime Team in Suffolk Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

A top Suffolk rural police officer says hare coursing is a ‘huge issue’ in the county as farmers and landowners brace themselves for a seasonal rise.

Damaged caused by hare coursers in Hitcham Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Damaged caused by hare coursers in Hitcham Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Sergeant Brian Calver, of Suffolk's rural and wildlife crime team, said the individuals responsible for the illegal activity "live their whole lives outside of the law".

Hare coursing is a rural crime where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares, with gambling on the outcome common practice.

The crime becomes more prevalent at this time of year following harvest when large areas of arable land are cleared of crops, making it easier for hare coursers to travel across fields.

MORE: Rural crime insurance claims coast Suffolk and Essex £3.5mIn recent years hare coursing gangs have been known to operate across Suffolk, in particular around Ixworth, along the A140 corridor through mid-Suffolk and around Great Barton.

Hare coursing Picture: MICHAEL HALL

Hare coursing Picture: MICHAEL HALL

The far north-west of Suffolk bordering the Fens and the area between Newmarket and Haverhill are other hotspots.

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Sgt Calver said the individuals are part of organised crime gangs.

"It's a huge issue and something we take very seriously. It isn't just the hare coursing but all the criminality that comes with it," he said.

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"These people live their whole lives outside of the law, they don't care about anybody. The way I often put it is imagine if someone drove onto your garden and when you went out and challenged them, you were threatened. Then they drove through your gate and caused a load of damage. It's no different."

MORE: Landowner 'threatened' by illegal hare coursers during annual spike in post-harvest incidentsSgt Calver said Suffolk police are working with 12 other forces to stop hare coursing, liaising with counterparts in neighbouring counties to apprehend criminals or prevent them travelling to certain areas.

"I would encourage anyone who sees hare coursing in progress to call 999. I don't know how many times people tell us they've called the farmer who owns the land. By all means do that, but call us first so we can act."

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said: "Hare coursing is a really nasty business. The people involved can be threatening and intimidating, and often violent if approached.

"The constabulary has targeted resources to fight rural crime but they need the public to be their eyes and ears so please call 101 to report any suspicious activity or 999 if a crime is on-going."

MORE: Bumper hare breeding season could lead to a rise in illegal hare coursing activity, police warn

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