The Countryside Alliance has produced an action plan to tackle the growing problem of hare poaching, launching on the same day as the Police UK wide ‘Day of Action Against Rural Crime’ (Thursday 8 November).

Illegal hare coursing, more correctly called poaching, is a huge problem in some parts of the countryside. The damage illegal coursers cause to land and property and the intimidation and violence faced by those on whose land they operate should not be underestimated. The problem is widely recognised by government and the police, with the National Rural Crime Survey earlier this year highlighting it as one of the top concerns for farmers and land managers.

The survey showed that the highest rates of dissatisfaction with how the police dealt with their case were for violent crime (58%), Wildlife crime/hare coursing (52%), theft of agricultural machinery (48%) and Harassment (48%). Almost half of all victims participating in the survey were dissatisfied with how the police dealt with their case.

Countryside Alliance is proposing five points of action to try and combat the problem:

  1. Amend the law to give the police and courts full seizure and forfeiture powers in all cases of poaching under the game laws, in relation to dogs and vehicles.
  2. Amend the law to enable the police to recover kennelling costs from convicted persons.
  3. Extend criminal behaviour orders to enable courts to impose these over wider geographical areas, across police force areas.
  4. Revise sentencing guidelines and ensure magistrates understand the full gravity of the offence.
  5. Ensure that in recording crime statistics hare poaching prosecutions and convictions are identifiable, enabling a proper understanding of the scale of the problem and where resources need to be focussed.

Countryside Alliance Head of Political, James Legge commented: “There are a number things which the Government can do to assist the police and courts in tackling the scourge of hare poaching in rural areas. No one should underestimate the terrible impact this criminality has on individuals and communities. There is a growing consensus as to what needs to be done and it is time the Government stopped paying lip service to the problem and actually take action.

“Our document sets out five clear actions the Government can take and we are calling for all other rural organisations, as well as the police, to come together with us to deliver the changes needed. The time for talking is over.”

For more information, please contact the Countryside Alliance at [email protected] or on 020 7840 9260.

To view the action plan please click here