Police campaign cracks down on illegal hare coursing
A police campaign to catch criminals involved in illegal hare coursing in Lincolnshire aims to break last year's record successes.
Operation Galileo in 2012 saw nearly 300 people caught by the dedicated team set up to tackle the problem.
Now, as crops are harvested in the fields, reports are coming in of cruel gangs congregating with dogs.
In the summer, autumn and winter of 2012 a total of 186 men were prosecuted in the county - mainly under the Gaming or Hunting Acts.
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Another 100 were given warnings because they were caught before any coursing could take place.
Word obviously got round the criminal community because the number of reports to police dropped by 250.
Operation Galileo leader Inspector Andy Ham said: "Hare coursing, as well as being illegal, causes disruption and alarm to members of our rural communities.
"Evidence shows that people who participate in it are mainly involved in other forms of criminal activity and they usually come from outside Lincolnshire.
"During what has become known as the hare coursing season, which lasts from around September to March, the number of reported incidents increased steadily each year until last season.
"The same period also saw a dramatic reduction in distraction burglaries in the county.
"Having a dedicated team enables us to not only respond quickly to reports and calls from the public, but it also improves the way in which we gather intelligence and analyse patterns.
"It consequently helps us deploy our policing resources to maximum effect.
"No-one knows the countryside better than the communities themselves. The public are best placed to notice unfamiliar people and vehicles.
"So please contact the police to report suspicious activities straight away."