Arrests in rural crime swoop

Supt Richard Spedding, pictured as part of rural crime crack down, Operation Firecrest

Supt Richard Spedding, pictured as part of rural crime crack down, Operation Firecrest

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TWO men have been arrested in connection with hare coursing during a police crackdown on rural crime.

The men were arrested on suspicion of handling dogs for the purpose of hare coursing on Barrows Lane, in Hambleton.

Hare coursing involves dogs chasing hares for competition. Lancashire played host to a three-day coursing event called the Waterloo Cup in Great Altcar from 1836 until 2005, when the Hunting Act came into force and made practice illegal.

Mark Thomas, wildlife officer for Lancashire Police, said: “It is important residents living in rural areas remain vigilant and contact the police if they suspect people are hare coursing in their area.

“This kind of activity usually takes place during daylight and one of the signs for residents to look out for is people walking across land with long dogs, such as lurchers, which are typically used in this cruel sport.

“Hare coursing itself is illegal, but those who are determined to do it often carry it out on land where they do not have permission to be. Not only are they trespassing, but there is also the risk they will commit other offences, such as criminal damage or theft, while they are there.”

The men, who are from Bolton, were arrested on Sunday and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

The arrests come as part of the week-long Operation Firecrest, which is aimed at tackling crime in rural areas. Officers have been carrying out extra patrols in remote areas, targeting suspected offenders, making visits to farms and rural businesses to offer crime prevention advice and hosting community meetings.

Specialist wildlife officers and representatives from the Environment Agency, United Utilities and other agencies will be carrying out enforcement activity including anti-poaching patrols and warrants.

Supt Richard Spedding, from Lancashire Police, said: “The most common type of offences in our rural communities include fuel and scrap metal theft as well as theft of agricultural machinery and offences like poaching and hare coursing. These are the type of activities we hope to target as part of Operation Firecrest.”