Operation Galileo returns to tackle hare coursing in Lincolnshire

As the football season returns so does another sport – the illegal activity of hare coursing. In response Lincolnshire police are re-launching Operation Galileo.

The police’s efforts to tackle hare coursing saw good results in 2017/18 with 76 dogs being seized from criminals who were setting them loose to chase and kill hares.

Lincolnshire also saw a 30% fall in the number of incidents – from 1,965 in 2016/17 down to 1,365 in 2017/18. This was a result of the force working closer with rural communities and the use of new technology and tactics to prevent offending, including drones with thermal imaging capability.

The drones will return to the force’s fleet to tackle rural crime this season, along with quadbikes and Ford Kugas which the force uses flexibly respond to incidents. This season three Ford Rangers join the ranks which will have greater capacity to safely hold seized dogs and more power tackle the most treacherous rural terrains.

Superintendent Phil Vickers, the force’s new lead for rural crime, says: “We are in good shape for this season with new vehicles and our drone can now be deployed 24/7 as more officers have been trained to fly them.  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 thefts of machinery and dangerous driving.

“People who live in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence and now CrimeStoppers have launched a number just for reporting rural crimes for people who wish to remain anonymous. Please report information, however insignificant you might think it is, as it may help us piece together a crime and prevent others from becoming victims.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones says: “I made a commitment to ensure our force has the right tools for the job to combat these gangs and we have already made great strides in that area.

“The behaviour of these organised criminals from across the country goes far beyond the illegal act of hunting hares with dogs and can involve significant risk of serious harm to our community and will not be tolerated in Lincolnshire.

“The police are more operationally ready for these criminals than ever before and the work the Chief Constable and I have done to ensure the criminal justice system understands the gravity of these crimes will support them in keeping our communities safer than ever.

“The message is simple, Lincolnshire is not a safe place for criminals of any kind and if you come here to course then expect to leave your dogs in our care and have the full weight of the law used against you.”

NFU Regional Director, Gordon Corner, said: “NFU is pleased to be hosting the launch of Operation Galileo again this year. Last year’s encouraging reduction in hare coursing incidents needs to be built on again and with the increased resources available to Lincolnshire Police; we hope to see this happen.

“Hare coursing remains a difficult to deal with crime – by its nature it is mobile and not easy to track, which is why we will be asking our members to report every incident over the coming season. Lincolnshire Police needs to know about all rural crimes taking place, as they will be recorded, giving us all a true reflection of the problems in the county.”

CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said: “At time of year when we know there is likely to be a spike in incidents of hare coursing it is encouraging to see Lincolnshire Police taking the issue seriously.

“Many of our members are extremely concerned about the crime taking place on their land due to the damage to crops and property and the threats of violence that can occur. We urge the police to be relentless in their work to tackle hare coursing and send a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Lincolnshire and beyond.”