by David Bean

New measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act that enhance police and court powers to tackle hare poaching will be brought into effect before the start of this year’s “season”, something the Alliance and other stakeholders have been urging the Government to do since the Bill was passed earlier this year.

Measures in the Act include increasing the maximum prison sentence to six months and uncapping the fine, allowing dog ownership disqualification orders for offenders and the recovery of kennelling costs for seized animals, and a new criminal offence of trespassing with intent to pursue a hare. Their inclusion in the Bill was the culmination of more than four years of intensive campaigning by the Countryside Alliance, alongside partners such as NFU and CLA, among other organisations.

Yet when the Act was passed in April, it was unclear when these new provisions would be brought into force. Given the level of criminality and damage to land associated with poaching, the Countryside Alliance urged the Home Secretary to ensure that this would be before the start of this year’s “season”, which typically follows the harvest.

The Government has now announced its intention to do exactly that. In a circular giving details of plans to commence various provisions of the Act, it has said:

“Preparations are in hand to bring these all of these measures into force on 1 August 2022 ahead of the start of the next hare coursing season. As part of that work, Operation Galileo, the national policing initiative jointly led by Lincolnshire Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, is preparing detailed operational guidance on the use of these measures.”

Working with our partners, the Countryside Alliance will monitor the development of the guidance and its implementation closely. We are determined to see that the intimidation, theft, vandalism and violence associated with hare poaching are consigned to the past.

To be part of our work to protect against threats and stand up for rural communities, join the Countryside Alliance today.

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