Warningsigns are going up in the countryside as part of a crackdown against harecoursing in Suffolk.
Thesigns urge the public to call the police immediately if they see hare coursingtaking place. They have been funded by the NFU, CLA and the NFUs Stowmarket& Sudbury group office.
Initially,1,000 signs are being distributed to farmers and landowners across the countyto coincide with the peak period for coursing incidents. The police say that reportsof hare coursing have been increasing in recent years and in the period September2012 to March 2013, more than 300 incidents were reported in Suffolk.
NFUSuffolk County Adviser Rachel Carrington said: Hare coursing is a serious andon-going problem in the countryside so we welcome Suffolk Polices commitmentto tackle it.
Evidencefrom across the region shows that incidents can be dramatically reduced wherethere is concerted action by farmers, the police, prosecutors and magistrates.
Wehope the public will play their part as well, and call the police if they seecoursing in progress. Working together, we can send out a strong message tocoursers that they are not welcome in Suffolk and that hare coursing will notbe tolerated here.
CLAEastern Regional Director Nicola Currie said: Hare coursing is carried out bydangerous and violent criminals, and affects too many of our members. Coursersare hardened criminals who are engaged inillegal betting involving large sums of money, and prepared to useviolence if disturbed.
TheCLA wants these signs to help everyone to help our police stop this crime. Themessage is simple: take the vehicle registration number and call the policeimmediately. They will do the rest. People should not be reticent about calling999 if they suspect hare coursing is taking place.
RuralCrime Officer Mark Bryant visited farmer Patrick Hitchcock at his farm nearStowmarket to deliver some of the hare coursing signs.
PCBryant said: We hope these signs will encourage people to report incidents ofhare coursing so we can respond and deal with those engaged in this illegalactivity.
InSeptember Suffolk Police launched Operation Galileo, a pro-active campaignagainst hare coursing. Officers are carrying out patrols in areas identified aspotential targets for offenders and will be taking strong action against anyonefound to be hare coursing.
PCBryant said: We will seek to prosecute those who are responsible and thevehicles used in such activities will be seized by police and crushed.
Farmersand landowners can obtain the hare coursing signs from the NFU regional officeon 01638 672100 or the CLA East office on 01638 590429.