Lincolnshire sees significant decline in hare coursing as new operation launched

The number of reports of hare coursing has significantly decreased in Lincolnshire since 2016. Last season Lincolnshire Police saw 873 incidents, compared to 1365 in 2017/18 and 1965 during the 2016/17 season.

To continue this trend, Operation Galileo 2019/2020 has been launched.

The drones return to the force’s Operation Galileo effort, to tackle rural crime, along with additional Ford Rangers and other marked & unmarked 4×4 vehicles which the force uses to respond to incidents.

Lincolnshire has been seizing Hare Coursing dogs for a number of years, more than any other force in the country.

Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, the force’s lead for rural crime, says: “We are in good shape for this season. Last season was very positive and we are looking at building on that, while also improving our efforts to fight other rural crimes such as theft of machinery and dangerous driving.

“People who live in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence, and we really need their support.

“The big news for 2019/20 is bringing together the top 12 Hare Coursing forces across the country under the Op Galileo banner – We are targeting the Offenders who cause greatest harm to our rural communities by sharing information and intelligence across the whole of the UK.

“The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) have been supporting our Analytical work, and we are in a position to use legislation against the key offenders in a way that has not been done before.

“As Op Galileo has a national footing, this offers more opportunities to use technology and stop offenders before they reach our fields – we will seize their vehicles, cash and property whenever and wherever the law allows.

“We have been at the forefront of working with rural partners such as the NFU and CLA, to seek changes to legislation that will have greater impact on offenders – Lincolnshire Polices efforts recognised in both the House of Lords and House of Commons in the past 12 months.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones says: “Lincolnshire being a largely rural county has, over the years suffered more than most from rural crimes of all kinds and hare coursing in particular.

“Since becoming PCC I have been clear that tackling these crimes was and remains a priority which has been backed up by investment in equipment, technology, training and tactics. I am proud of the progress Lincolnshire Police have made so far but as we know there is always more to do and I have no doubt that this year’s efforts will be even more robust in protecting our communities that ever before.

“Quite simply Lincolnshire are at the forefront of fighting rural criminality nationally and their work is being replicated up and down the UK due to its success.”

Ben Underwood, spokesman for the CLA which is working with Lincolnshire Police on this campaign, said: “The CLA are encouraged to see the police use the full powers at their disposal to punish anyone caught in the act of hare coursing.

“This is the only way that a marker can be put down that this rural crime will not be tolerated. We strongly encourage people to record and report any suspicious activity immediately to the police and will continue to work closely with them to help tackle this abhorrent crime.”

NFU county advisers in Lincolnshire, Rhonda Thompson and Danny O’Shea, and farmers have been working with Lincolnshire Police to tackle rural crime in the county.

Rhonda said: “Operation Galileo is a vital tool in tackling rural crime and we want to continue our relationship with the force to make sure criminals know that Lincolnshire is a no-go zone for them.

Danny added: “Rural crime has a devastating impact on its victims and it’s great that Lincolnshire Police take it seriously and are committing resources to their rural crime team. We’d urge farmers and rural communities to help the police by reporting incidents to them so they can respond.”