North Essex: Officers thanked for response to hare coursing – man fined
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An estate manager has praised police officers after a man was fined for hare coursing on farmland and ordered to pay compensation for damage caused.
Albert Eastwood, 26, of Denton Close, Redhill, Surrey, admitted hare coursing and causing criminal damage to fields on the estate in north Essex.
On 21 April at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, he was fined £200 for hare coursing and £100 for criminal damage. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the estate, £105 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.
“Full marks to Essex Police for pursuing this to a prosecution because hare coursing is a difficult crime to prosecute, although I’m hoping that Government plans to introduce tougher sentencing will happen soon. “The police dealt with the case beautifully, they arrived quickly, the man’s collar was felt and I couldn’t have asked for more. “Hare coursing is a scourge and, quite apart from the fate of our brown hares, it often has links to organised crime, although not in this case. Thousands of pounds can be gambled at illegal coursing events. “I have noticed the police response to such incidents has improved over the past couple of years and officers are more knowledgeable about hare coursing and the trouble it causes in rural communities. We really appreciate the police support, especially in what can be a remote and rural location.” Estate manager
Eastwood had been spotted on 1 February 2022 driving his 4x4 vehicle at speed across a field, following a lurcher which was chasing a hare. The dog caught up with the hare, killed it and then stopped.
Police were called by one of the gamekeepers and an Essex Police officer stopped Eastwood’s vehicle before he could leave the estate. The vehicle contained two lurchers, together with three dead hares concealed in the passenger footwell.
The padlock and chain securing the field gate had been removed and tyre marks and ruts could be seen across the field.
Eastwood was reported for hare coursing and criminal damage.
“Hare coursing causes landowners, farmers and the rural community a large amount of anxiety because of the damage caused to the land by trespassing. “In this case, Eastwood had driven a vehicle across farmland, which not only had the potential to damage crops but also caused ruts, which damage soil structure and can affect future crop yields. “Hare coursing is a cruel activity, not just because hares are killed in the name of what some still persist in calling a ‘sport’ but because the dogs involved are often mistreated, too. “We won’t tolerate animal cruelty in any form and will seek to prosecute whenever we have evidence of such crimes.” PC Clare Dawson
Incidents of hare coursing across Essex and six other force areas fell from 2,044 in 2020-21 to 1,415 in 2021-22 – a drop of 31%. This follows our move last September to team up with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk forces to remove policing borders when certain tactics are used. This has made catching and prosecuting offenders easier.
Essex Police Rural Engagement Team
Our Rural Engagement Team was set up specifically to engage with our rural communities.
Officers investigate and help to prevent crimes which matter to you, such as hare coursing, agricultural theft and fly-tipping.
And they also liaise with partner agencies to take enforcement action against those who breach legislation and to tackle specific rural issues through proactive operations.
Anyone who experiences anti-social behaviour or who has information about a crime or criminality, should ring 999 if it’s an emergency or a crime in progress.
Otherwise you can report it online via our website, where you can also provide information directly to an online Live Chat operator between 7am and 11pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or by calling 0800 555 111.