New offences, increased penalties and enhanced powers for the courts to tackle hare poaching, introduced in the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 in response to Countryside Alliance campaigning, are now in force.
After successfully pressuring the Government to amend its proposed law to include these vital new measures the Alliance was keen to ensure that they would come into force before the start of the coming ‘season’, which typically follows the harvest. Rural communities, we argued, must be protected from the blight of illegal poaching as soon as possible.
In June the Government announced plans to commence the provisions on 1 August. It did so and the new legislation is now in effect.
The changes mean that the maximum prison sentence for hare poaching has increased to six months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine, courts can disqualify offenders from owning a dog and order the recovery of kennelling costs for animals seized in connection with an offence, and prosecutors can bring a new charge of trespassing with intent to pursue a hare.
Having campaigned for these changes for more than four years along with rural sector partners, the Alliance will take careful note of how they work in practice so that rural communities need no longer fear the criminality associated with hare poaching.
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