West Norfolk landowners warned over coursing crime threat

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Farmers and landowners in West Norfolk are being urged to be vigilant against the threat of hare coursing following a recent increase in cases.

Police say people from as far afield as Scotland, Shropshire and the south-west who intended to travel to the county to take part in the illegal pursuit have been intercepted in recent weeks.

Inspector Jonathan Papworth, of Norfolk Police, said yesterday: “In the past two to three weeks we have seen a rise in the number of intelligence reports received regarding potential hare coursing.

“These people are determined criminals travelling huge distances. I’m pleased to report locally we’re ready to take them on and will always prosecute.

“If you see an event taking place we would advise you not to approach the participants, but contact us immediately.”

Ben Underwood, eastern regional director of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said: “Hare 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.

“Calls from the public really do make a difference. They provide the police with crucial intelligence that helps them better manage resources to combat crime more effectively.”

The CLA has also joined forces with the National Farmers Union and the police to provide signs for landowners warning would-be coursers of the penalties.

Anyone who wishes to display one should contact the CLA on 01638 590429.