As this year’s harvest gets under way, so too does the illegal sport of hare coursing and Hertfordshire has already had its first arrest this season.
On Friday 15 July at around 8:45pm, coursers were spotted near Wallington. A 4x4 vehicle was then located near to Slip End at Ashwell but failed to stop for police.
Local Royston rural officers PC Jon Seppings and PCSO Hannah Moss managed to stop the vehicle at 9:20pm. The occupants of the car, five men and five dogs, made off on foot pursued by officers.
Edward Connors (21) from Banstead in Surrey was subsequently arrested and charged with:
Failing to stop for police
Driving with no insurance
Breaching a Community Protection Notice in relation to the offence of hare coursing.
Two dogs were also seized. Connors has been released on police bail and will appear at court in due course.
Hare coursing is a banned sport which sees ‘sight’ hounds, such as lurchers, chasing a hare by sight, not scent. Usually, but not always, carried out in groups, the dogs flush out the hares in the fields and are then released from their leads to chase, and often kill, the animal.
Sometimes, the practice is highly organised. Significant sums of money can change hands in the form of illegal betting and gambling on the outcome. The victor is determined by the first dog to catch and ‘turn’ the hare or kill it.
“Those engaged in this illegal act often trespass on private land, damaging crops and property, as well as intimidating and showing violence towards those who dare to challenge their presence,” explained Rural Royston officer, Jon Seppings.
“It can also be very distressing for members of the public to witness hare coursing and intelligence suggests that many of those engaged in this illegal sport, often commit other forms of rural-based acquisitive crime.
“We have worked hard with the rural community to encourage them to report suspected incidents to us, particularly if they are in progress, as this gives us a chance of identifying the coursers and catching them in the act, like we have done in this instance.
“I want to reassure our rural residents that we take this type of crime very seriously and, where possible, we will always attend a report in progress.”
If you witness hare coursing in action, always call 999.