New hare coursing laws which would increase fines to an ‘unlimited amount’ and introduce possible jail time have been supported by the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner after years of lobbying.
The plans are part of amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (which prompted outrage across the country last year due to proposed plans for stricter rules on people’s right to protest), setting out new measures to strengthen law enforcement for hare poaching.
Lincolnshire was the first police force in the UK to seize hare coursers’ dogs in 2017, and new legislation set out by the government will mean the costs of kennelling the dogs can also be seized from offenders.
It is a welcome step according to Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones, who has been calling for stricter laws on this since 2016, investing millions of pounds to equip the local force as they seek to protect rural communities.
Mr Jones said: “The gangs that take part in this activity are also responsible for many other crimes – often causing havoc and spreading misery in the villages and hamlets they prey on.
“Many of the offenders involved in hare coursing are also involved in organised crime so they have an impact on our whole community too.
“Lincolnshire had always borne the brunt of coursing over the last few years but the changes to legislation we have long called for will deliver an even stronger hand in dealing with the problem.”
The full proposals outlined by government include increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game to an unlimited fine, and introducing the possibility of up to six months imprisonment for the first time ever.
Also, there would be two new criminal offences for trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare, and being equipped to trespass with this intention, both of which would be punishable by a fine and/or up to six months in jail.
New powers could be given to the courts to order, on conviction, the reimbursement of costs incurred by the police in kennelling dogs that have been seized due to hare coursing-related offences, as well as making an order disqualifying an offender from owning or keeping a dog.