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Police Commissioner joins local MPs to tackle hare coursing

POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite joined local MPs at a meeting at the House of Lords yesterday (5th March) to discuss problems faced by police in combatting illegal hare coursing.

The Commissioner met Lord Randall, the Prime Minister’s Senior Policy Advisor on Rural Affairs together with local MPs from across Cambridgeshire, including Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon), Shailesh Vara (North West Cambridgeshire), Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire) and Superintendent James Sutherland from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

With incidents of hare coursing on the rise within the county, the Commissioner has been working closely with local MPs, the Constabulary, Countryside Watch and the NFU to encourage the government to review sentencing.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite said: “Hare coursing continues to be a big problem in Cambridgeshire, threatening local livelihoods, putting pressure on policing resources and increasing the fear of crime within our rural communities.

“Police Officers only have the Game Act of 1831 which results in the average fine per individual offender being £280. It is vital we bring about a change in the sentencing law so that the penalty better suits the crime.

“It’s more important than ever that we work together to continue to address this threat. The meeting with Lord Randall was a great opportunity for us to be at the heart of decision making representing farmers and those living in rural communities from this despicable crime.”

Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Supt James Sutherland said:  “While we continue to provide dedicated officers to tackle hare coursing in the form of the RCAT (Rural Crime Action Team), the issue needs to be addressed by the whole of the criminal justice system.  Therefore I was really pleased to be able to meet with Cambridgeshire MPs and government advisors who showed a clear understanding of the extent of the problem and a willingness to consider reform.  There is reason to be optimistic about the future.”

Jonathan Djanogly MP for Huntingdon added: “More needs to be done to tackle hare coursing which is why I am working with the Police and Crime Commissioner to call on Ministers for co-ordinated action to be taken with Cambridgeshire Constabulary to ensure that we have all the necessary powers to deal with the problem. I share the Police and Crime Commissioner’s concerns about the impact this issue has in our rural communities and will continue to work with him to raise awareness and strengthen the Police’s hand in tackling this criminal behaviour.”