Hare coursing is big business for organised criminals

Inspector James Davies
Inspector James Davies

An Inspector Calls by Insp James Davies, Thames Valley Police’s Neighbourhood Inspector for Aylesbury Vale...

Last time I spoke about the increase we see in house burglaries at this time of year and how we are working to prevent these occurring.

It would of course be nice if the police had one focus that we could throw our resources into but clearly this can never be the case. Criminals commit all sorts of crime that must be investigated, the public and other agencies call for our help in all sorts of ways. One crime type which tends to be specific to our border with Bedfordshire is that of hare coursing. Now if you live in a rural area you will understand some of the issues with coursing.

Undoubtedly the cruel way the hare dies when first chased then killed by the dogs is important, but somebody who has just had their house broken into may ask ‘why worry about a hare when my house has been ransacked?’.

There is the damage to the crops and the threats to local farmers who try to intervene, but that’s not all! As a police officer what I find interesting is the profile of the average hare courser. These aren’t your average members of the public, who owns a dog and fancies a bit of gambling, and this is the crux of the matter. Hare coursing is big business and the organised criminals who take part in the events can bet thousands of pounds on each hare. The average courser has a long history of criminal activity and are usually the member of an organised crime group who’s day job may me be burglary, armed robbery and so on.

If you live on the Berkshire-Oxfordshire border it is more of a regular issue. On the Aylesbury Vale we rarely suffer from hare coursing so when officers are sent to a report it might be the first time they have dealt with it. Penalties for hare coursing are not severe, however one useful power is that we can seize the vehicles and dogs involved.

So why mention this when our focus is reducing burglaries? Policing is a difficult balance of competing priorities.

We have huge successes around catching burglars, however if we can’t get them through traditional means then we have to look at other avenues. Catch them hare coursing and take their cars, catch them drink driving and take their liberty. To summarise then the public expect the police to deliver in a whole host of different ways. Often it is not clear why we are focussing on a particular area of business, but rest assured that in these days of austerity we do not deploy resources on a whim, there is always a plan.

If you see hare coursing dial 999 and do not approach these individuals.