As the season draws to a close, Lincolnshire Police are reflecting on a record breaking effort to put an end to hare coursing.
The force has seen a 30% drop in incidents in 2017/18 – 1,365 incidents were reported by residents compared with 1,965 in 2016/17.
This season officers have seized 76 dogs being used for hare coursing and 45 people were arrested or reported for summons.
Another 58 people were served with dispersal notices, forcing them to leave the county and often without their dog.
The news has been welcomed by Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor and Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.
DCC Craig Naylor, said: “We have had to raise our game to tackle what had been an increasing problem in Lincolnshire and these figures show our commitment to tackling rural crime.
“Criminals no longer see Lincolnshire as an easy target as they know we will seize their dogs which are worth thousands of pounds to them.
“We’ve had some fantastic results, particularly in the last few months.
“Catching coursers in the act with the police drone, permanently re-homing dogs, getting criminal behaviour orders served on offenders which prevent them from coming back to the county with dogs and we’ve seen harsher fines.
“I’m pleased with this progress and we are already planning to build on this for next season.
“We encourage our farming community to continue working with us and thank all of them for their ongoing support, sharing of information and interest in reducing this vile crime.”
PCC Marc Jones added: “The fight against hare coursing is a crucial part of our drive to keep rural communities safe.
“The gangs that commit these crimes are often responsible for a raft of other offences when they come into our county.
“I am delighted the hard work done to provide the force with the right equipment to combat these gangs, along with the commitment and hard work of front line officers, is beginning to make a difference.
“I am confident this is just the beginning of a campaign to drive these criminals out of our communities.”
The news has also been welcomed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Danny O’Shea, NFU’s county adviser for Lincolnshire, said: “NFU in Lincolnshire has been working closely with Lincolnshire Police ahead of and during the hare coursing season to ensure that the issues farmers face, as a consequence of this crime, are fully understood.
“The results released today show that their efforts are having an impact.
“We feel that the police are doing everything that they can to tackle this insidious crime and the associated issues that it brings and have stepped up to the challenge that hare coursing in Lincolnshire presents.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Lincolnshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner, over the coming months.”
CLA East Regional Director, Ben Underwood, added: “It has been encouraging to see Lincolnshire Police taking a much tougher stance against hare coursing and the level of arrests and dogs seized is good news.
“Hare coursing is a fluid crime that moves across counties and regions and I would urge all police forces in the east of England to use every resource possible to clamp down on this illegal activity.”
Lincolnshire Police have advised the public to report sightings of hare coursing to 101. If hare coursing is in progress, call 999.
Please continue to report all sightings of hare coursing on 101. If hare coursing is in progress dial 999.