Seizing dogs from hare coursers is one of the most effective methods to deter repeat offending, the NFU has stressed to the Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP today.

Despite police forces considering the method effective, many have had to stop this practice as kenneling costs are too expensive.

In a roundtable to discuss rural police resources, hare coursing, trespass and criminal damage, the NFU, as the sole farming representative, asked the minister to consider a new statutory instrument that allowed police forces to recover kenneling costs for hare coursing offences.

NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham, who attended the roundtable, said: “Hare coursing can often be one of the crimes with the most impact on a farm business. Not only can it cause significant damage to the land, but those committing the crime often use violence and intimidation when confronted.

“By giving police the power to seize dogs, and make it viable in the long-term, you can rid criminals of their most valuable asset and go a long way to stopping repeat offences.”

NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said: “As someone who has appeared in court as a witness of illegal hare coursing, I know how unpleasant this issue can feel as a farmer.

“Recent statistics1 showed that over a quarter of farm businesses had experienced hare coursing last year, a figure which clearly demonstrates that action must be taken. Seizing dogs is a tried and tested method that is shown to work and I urge the minister to consider these proposals.

“The NFU has been consistently leading on engaging with MPs, government and police to help begin to put a stop to this destructive crime. Just last year, the NFU hosted over 90% of police forces affected by hare coursing to improve co-ordinated action and allow farmers to continue producing safe, traceable and affordable food.”

The NFU also asked the minister to consider the recommendations of the APPG for Animal Welfare’s report on livestock worrying. These include:

  • Allowing police to enter property to search for, seize and retain a dog

To make livestock worrying a recordable crime.