Support offered to Lincolnshire farmers plagued by surge in illegal hare coursing

With Lincolnshire Police issuing another dispersal order to keep illegal hare coursers away from the county, farmers are being offered support while being faced with this latest crime “surge” affecting them and their families.

Farmers in the south of Lincolnshire have urged the public to help stamp out barbaric hare coursing by reporting suspected offenders to the police. And joining forces with the National Farmers Union, Lincolnshire Rural Support Network is advising families affected by threats and acts of violence, vandalism and theft, not to suffer in silence, but to seek help.

The NFU’s urgent call follows a “surge” in hare coursing across south Lincolnshire in recent weeks, which has included threats, abuse and assaults on farmers, with one victim even being knocked over in his own yard by a vehicle.

NFU members have reported being “plagued” by coursers on a daily basis, with huge damage to crops and fields caused by vehicles driven at break-neck speed and gate locks broken “as soon as we replace them”.

One anonymous hare coursing victim said: “In just the last year I’ve been threatened multiple times, verbally abused and even knocked over in my own yard as they drove through like lunatics whilst trying to escape from neighbouring land.

“I worry for the safety of others due to their recklessness in pursuit of ‘sport’, particularly my wife and baby daughter – even in our own yard.”

Amy Thomas, LRSN’s Head of Charity urged affected farming families to seek help. She said: “The consequences of violence and criminal behaviour on victims can be very difficult to cope with and they affect different people in different ways. Facing a violent, abusive or threatening criminal on your own premises could have profound effects on the wellbeing of you, your family and staff, so having someone to talk to and to help your recovery from these traumatic experiences is where LRSN can help. We’re here to support Lincolnshire’s rural and farming community through all sorts of challenges; hare coursing incidents and their associated effects can be devastating, and we are here to listen and help.”

Johanna Musson, NFU county adviser for south Lincolnshire, said: “This surge in hare coursing shows there is a determined, hardcore of offenders driving this activity forward and they’re hell bent on carrying on.

“Lincolnshire Police is recruiting the final members of its new rural crime action team and there are tougher laws surrounding hare coursing being discussed, but this situation is happening in Lincolnshire’s fields right now.

“Our farmers and growers need the public to help report suspected hare coursers to police, without putting themselves at risk, to help stamp out this barbaric crime.”

Hare coursing was banned in the UK by the Hunting Act 2004. It is often committed by organised criminal gangs on large areas of flat farmland suitable for hares, including Lincolnshire. Offenders travel large distances to course hares, with gangs filming the chase for betting purposes.

What to look out for:

Groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, eg by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path

Racing dogs and sighthounds like lurchers, whippets and greyhounds

Vehicles travelling in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders

People using binoculars to spot hares

People walking the edge of a field to frighten a hare into the open

What to do next:

Ring 999 if hare coursing is taking place

Take photos or videos, but only if you can do so safely

Farming and rural families in need of support can receive professional and confidential, pastoral and practical support from our staff and volunteers. Full details of LRSN’s range of support services and how to access them, can be found at www.lrsn.co.uk