Suffolk: Hare coursing attack sparks rural crime warning
ILLEGAL hare coursers mowed down a landowner with their car after he confronted them in a Suffolk village, before driving at a woman and then ramming another vehicle.
The man hurt in the incident, which happened yesterday morning at Hitcham, near Stowmarket, was still thought to be in hospital last night while police try to track down those responsible.
There has been shock and outrage at the attack, with one campaign group saying it re-emphasised the need for rural crime to “not be forgotten” when the new police and crime commissioners are elected later this week.
The drama unfolded in Hitcham at around 10.45am, and followed multiple reports to police earlier of hare coursers trying to operate in Flixton, Ampton, Rattlesden and Pakenham.
The landowner, in his 60s, spotted the men hare coursing on private land in the village, but when he confronted them, they drove their vehicle at him.
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He suffered a back injury and a cut hand, and was later taken to West Suffolk Hospital for treatment.
Police say the men also drove their vehicle towards a woman, who was not hit, and then rammed the victims’ car before leaving in the direction of Preston St Mary.
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Officers are carrying out extensive enquiries in the area and are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the vehicle used in the attack. It is described as a blue ‘T’ registration Subaru that may be extensively damaged.
Nicola Currie, regional director of the Country Land and Business Association, and who lives in Hitcham, said it was a worrying incident.
She said the family involved was “highly respected”, and she understood they had been left very shaken by the ordeal.
She said the incident also re-emphasised the importance of tackling rural crime.
“The hare coursers are vicious criminals. It is highly organised crime. It is all to do with illegal betting,” she said.
“There is an important message, with the police and crime commissioner election around the corner, and that is the importance of not forgetting rural crime.
“Police forces have got to learn to work together on this. We have got to have a regional emphasis to stamp out hare coursing.”
She said unless all forces in the region tackled the issue, hare coursing would simply be “squeezed” into those counties where it was not a policing priority.
NFU spokesman for the eastern region, Brian Finnerty, said hare coursing was an ongoing problem in the area, particularly at this time of year when crops have been harvested and conditions are ideal for the illegal activity.
He said: “The police carry out ongoing operations in East Anglia because hare coursing is a serious problem in the countryside and has been for some time.”
He said incidents like the attack in Hitcham were not as rare as people might think, adding: “Those who take part in hare coursing are often involved in other criminal activities and when they are on farmland, they are also on the look out for farm machinery, diesel or other items.
“There are some particularly nasty criminals involved in hare coursing and there is also a lot of money involved.
“It’s an ongoing concern for the rural community and when the police are sitting in a control room in a town, it’s hard for them to realise just how serious an issue this is. We would like to see a crackdown on hare coursing in the region.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Suffolk Police on 101.