Charity launches appeal for information on illegal hare coursing gangs in Northamptonshire
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Independent charity Crimestoppers is urging people across rural Northamptonshire to speak up anonymously about the illegal act of hare coursing.
In the eight-week campaign with Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire Police which launched on Monday (August 24), people are encouraged to report suspicious behaviour and those who are involved, rather than confront it.
Hare coursing is where dogs – often greyhounds or lurchers - are used to chase, catch and kill hares. The illegal events can be lucrative for criminal gangs who often live stream the event. It takes place on areas of flat, open land, accessed by trespassing, where the dogs can easily and visibly pursue the hare for sport.
We are now in hare coursing season as many crops have been felled, which leaves clear open fields. Hare coursing normally takes place either at dusk or dawn and it is typically carried out by large groups of people or gangs, who travel long distances in convey.
Anyone with information about those involved in hare coursing is asked to speak up 100% anonymously by passing on what they know using the charity’s simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555 111.
There are many negative impacts of hare coursing, including fences and gates being damaged by vehicles as they forcibly gain access to private land. Once in a field, it is common practise to film the chase from a moving vehicle, which can cause significant damage to the field and crops.
Fear, intimidation and violence are real concerns inflicted by coursers on land owners, farmers and anyone who may question the activity of those who are taking part.
The campaign will use social media to promote Crimestoppers’ unique service of being independent from the police with a cast-iron guarantee of anonymity to the thousands of people who make contact each and every day.
You can help fight hare coursing by making Crimestoppers, or the Force aware if you see any of the following activity:
• Groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps near a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path. This is often the most obvious sign • A cluster of estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans with evidence of dogs inside • Vehicles travelling in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders • You see a gathering of people using binoculars to spot hares • You see coursers walking along the edge of a field to frighten a hare into the open
If possible, when you report information about hare coursing which looks to be in progress or potentially due to take place, make a note of the date, time and location of the activity along with a description of any vehicles, people, dogs and direction of travel.
A vehicle description should include the make, model and colour along with any unique features, along with the registration number (which could be cloned). Never confront hare coursers yourself.
Lydia Patsalides, East Midlands Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Hare coursing can incur a fine of up to £5,000 and those taking part may also have their vehicles and dogs seized.
“The act itself is also extremely aggravating and damaging to farmers and landowners, who are often powerless to stop it.
“We are appealing for information about it and through this campaign, we are highlighting the signs to spot and what you can do to keep your community safe from the criminal gangs involved.
“If you have any concerns about someone who may be involved in hare coursing, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go online at crimestoppers-uk.org, to give information to our charity 100% anonymously about this or any other crime. Alternatively, you can contact Northamptonshire Police, especially if you feel in danger.
“Crimestoppers gives people who feel unable to speak directly to police a voice to talk about what they know. In over 32 years since we began, we have always kept our promise of anonymity to the millions of people who have trusted us.”
To pass on what you know, call our UK Contact Centre 24/7 on freephone 0800 555 111 or visit our website Crimestoppers-uk.org and complete a simple anonymous online form.
Please note: Computer IP addresses are never traced and no-one will ever know you contacted us. For telephone calls, we have no caller line display, no 1471 facility and we have never traced a call.