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Hare Coursing

24th January 2019

Jonathan Djanogly joins local MPs, Shailesh Vara and Daniel Zeichner in a joint letter to Minister Victoria Atkins MP about illegal hare coursing in the area.

Read the text of the letter here:

FAO: Victoria Atkins MP

Dear Minister

We attach a copy of a paper prepared by Cambridgeshire Police addressing hare coursing within Cambridgeshire (December 2018). As recognised in the document, we all see hare coursing as a very serious issue impacting significantly within our rural areas.

When we mentioned this issue at a recent meeting that you attended, you thought that this could be suitably rectified by a review of sentencing guidelines. It is the case that there are no sentencing guidelines for hare coursing. But whilst this needs to be addressed we support the document’s view that other remedies also require action.

This is a very money orientated illegal sport where the dogs can be worth thousands of pounds and even more can be spent on gambling. On the other hand, chances of prosecution are slim and the penalties are a weak deterrent.

The problem is that the police spend a lot of resources investigating and prosecuting hare coursing. However successful prosecution (which is rare) involves magistrates only being able to issue fines of up to £2,500 under the Game Act 1831. Even worse, the average fine will only be less than £200. There is therefore a huge disparity between committing the crime and the penalty, which is undermining people’s confidence in stopping this blight.

Furthermore, because the 1831 legislation requires trespass to be proved, prosecution often fails because the landowners refuse to testify due to perceived threats. Indeed, one can understand their reticence when looking at the very light sentences handed out for what can often be significant fencing and crop damage costing thousands.

It seems to us that this matter now needs to be taken in hand at ministerial level and we would be grateful if you could now advise what action you are to be taking.

We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Djanogly
Shailesh Vara
Daniel Zeichner

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