A farmer from Shouldham is displaying new signs warning hare coursers that they face prosecution and heavy fines as part of a countywide crackdown on the crime.
Geoff Hipperson, of Melrose Farm, was presented with the new hare coursing sign by Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Eastern Regional Director Nicola Currie, Tony Bone, of Farmwatch, and Alex Dinsdale, NFU Norfolk County Adviser.
The signs also urge the public to call 999 immediately if they see coursing taking place to help police with convictions as well as seize and destroy vehicles used by the criminals.
The initiative has been funded by the CLA, NFU and Norfolk Constabulary and is timed to coincide with the end of harvest when coursers tend to become more active due to large portions of land being left without standing crops.
Nicola Currie said: “Norfolk is a largely rural county and is often targeted by hare coursers who trespass on private land to carry out this illegal activity. Those who have been a victim of hare coursing liken it to a ram raid of the countryside.
“Coursers are hardened criminals who are engaged in illegal betting involving large sums of money, and prepared to use violence if disturbed. Evidence shows that they are frequently also involved in other criminal activity too.
“If you spot a suspicious vehicle, take the registration number and call Norfolk Police. People should not be reticent about calling 999 if they suspect hare coursing is taking place. Calls from the public help officers to catch these criminals, and take their vehicles away from them to be destroyed so they do not commit a similar crime again.”
NFU County Adviser Alex Dinsdale said: “Hare coursing is a serious problem in the countryside and these signs send out a clear message that it won’t be tolerated in Norfolk.
Inspector Jonathan Papworth of Norfolk Police said: “Hare coursers are criminals and give no consideration to landowners’ property and crops. They often have a sophisticated information network and knowledge of rural Norfolk and they invariably know about vulnerable properties in the area, short cuts, and escape routes.
“We are committed to prosecuting those involved in hare coursing – in order to do this we work in partnership with farmers, landowners and gamekeepers. If you see an event taking place we would advise you not to approach the participants, but contact us immediately.”
Farmers and landowners can obtain the new hare coursing signs from the CLA East office on 01638 590429 or the NFU regional office on 01638 672100.