Lincolnshire

Police unit returns to take on hare coursers

Last year Lincolnshire Police’s anti-hare coursing unit – Operation Galileo – successfully reduced hare coursing by 30%. Now it’s returned to stamp out the crime.

Similarly to the football season the illegal ‘sport’ runs from September to April every year, when fields have been harvested.

During that time Operation Galileo works closely with rural communities and employs a number of specialist technologies such as thermal imaging drones to catch and deter hare courses.

Its efforts last year meant that 76 dogs were seized from criminals who would use them 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).

To date Operation Galileo has brought 45 criminals to justice and seized 76 dogs. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

The drones returned to the force’s fleet to tackle rural crime this season, along with quadbikes and Ford Kugas, which the unit uses flexibly to 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, said: “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 met with officers at the launch of Operation Galileo. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones said: “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.”

Anyone with information regarding rural crime can report it anonymously to crime stoppers on 0800 783 0137. A reward of £1000 is available for information that leads to a conviction.