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Cross border police forces and Bradford Estates urge residents to report hare coursing as part of national clampdown

Landed estates business Bradford Estates has joined forces with the West Mercia and Staffordshire Police forces to tackle illegal hare coursing in the area.

Bradford Estates, which stewards 12,000 acres of land across the Shopshire and Staffordshire border, are working with local residents, farmers and landowners to report criminal activity as part of a national drive named Operation Galileo.

A criminal offence under law, hare coursing sees dogs used to chase and kill hares, with substantial sums of money being bet by organisers. Hare coursing peaks in the autumn month after fields have been harvested, giving hares less cover in which to hide.

With over 30 UK police forces taking part in Operation Galileo, the national operation has been formed to tackle the significant issues which hare coursing causes to people living in rural communities.

Bradford Estates together with the West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces are raising local awareness of the illegal wildlife crime and urging residents to report suspicious activity via their virtual neighbourhood watch WhatsApp group.

Established by the Bradford Estates office, the group is made up of local residents, tenants, businesses and farmers together with members of the Bradford Estates team and the West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces.

Staffordshire Police Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer Louise Jones said:

“Hare coursing is a recurring problem across rural communities. Not only is there the issue of animal welfare, but the wider impact on the community. This can include vandalism of property, loss of income for farmers and landowners, theft, intimidation, and road traffic issues due to the driving of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles.

“Prevention is the focus of Operation Galileo. Residents living in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence. We are asking residents to report any unusual activity or patterns of behaviour they may witness. This helps us to build up a better understanding of hare coursing in the area, and ultimately prosecute those involved.”

New government legislation was introduced in August under the Police Crime Sentencing Courts Act 2022 which provides tougher sentencing and improved powers to tackle hare coursing. This includes increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game to an unlimited fine and the introduction of the possibility of up to six months in prison.

Bradford Estates Property Director Steve Farrow said:

“As we enter hare coursing season, we are working in close partnership with the West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces on Operation Galileo.

“Hare coursing is a concern in our local community at this time of year and we urge residents to report and remain vigilant to disrupt those criminals who course hares.”

Operation Galileo was formed to establish a national approach to hare coursing. The taskforce is focussing on county cross border criminality, with research and analysis being used to identify intelligence enforcement and prevention opportunities.

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