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Two men have been banned from owning or keeping dogs for three years under new legislative powers designed to target poachers.
On 21 February, Colchester magistrates handed David Hilden and Tyron Young disqualification orders under section 66 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 in what is believed to be a national first, after the pair each admitted a charge of daytime trespass in pursuit of game.
Magistrates made the orders after hearing both men had travelled to the Saffron Walden area from south London with dogs which were to be used to poach game.
Investigating officer PC Nigel Wright, of the Rural Engagement Team, said after the hearing:
“The poaching of wild animals is extremely cruel but it can also cause a lot of damage to crops and farmland, which is very costly for the land owner or farmer.
“Dogs are integral to poaching and I am delighted that the magistrates were able to use this new legislation to deprive these two poachers of any access to dogs, even just walking someone else’s, for the next three years.
“We look forward to working with the CPS to have these disqualification orders applied in cases of hare coursing and other poaching offences in the future.”
Sally Robinson, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England and CPS Hare Coursing Lead, said:
“This type of offending has a profound impact on rural and farming communities, which is why I am thrilled that, in a legal first, we successfully asked the court to apply disqualification orders in this case.
“I hope this sends a warning to anyone who thinks about poaching any form of wildlife, that we will not hesitate to ask for these orders whenever possible.
“We will continue to clamp down on poachers - working closely with the police and other partner agencies - using all the powers at our disposal.”
Hilden, 39, of Lathams Way, Croydon, and Young, 35, of Bolton Drive, Morden, were detained by rural engagement officers while walking across crop fields with four dogs, including two lurchers on slip leads, on Peacock Hill, near Littlebury, Saffron Walden, on 15 October 2022.
There were no public footpaths in the area and the landowner had not given the men permission to be on the land. When interviewed by officers at the scene, Hilden admitted he had gone on to the land to pursue rabbits while Young claimed to be walking his dog.
Officers seized their vehicle at the time and, following further enquiries, Hilden and Young were summonsed to appear at court to answer the charges.
Hilden was also fined £120 and ordered to pay court costs of £105 and a victim surcharge of £48, while Young was fined £200 and ordered to pay £105 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
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 theft of agricultural vehicles and technical equipment, hare coursing, fly-tipping and animal cruelty.
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.
Visit our rural crime webpages for specific crime prevention advice. You can also find out about our farm and rural watch scheme at www.essex.police.uk/essexwatch
If you see hare coursing taking place, ring 999 immediately and provide as much information as you can – for example, a What3Words location, a description of the people involved, vehicle registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel.
When the police give you a reference number, please put this and the day’s date into any WhatsApp groups you are a part of so that anyone in the area with information can ring us and we can link it to the same incident, if relevant.
However, it is very important that you don’t confront hare coursers or put yourself at risk.
If you see anything which you feel needs police attention, or you have information about a crime or criminal activity, always ring 999 if it is an emergency or a crime in progress.
Otherwise you can report it online at https://www.essex.police.uk/ro where you can also speak to an online Live Chat operator between 10am and 9pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or by calling 0800 555 111.