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Lincolnshire Police's annual Operation Galileo launched in Leadenham





Police have warned hare coursing will not be tolerated in the county as they launch their annual operation.

Operation Galileo was launched by Lincolnshire Police at Glebe Farm, Leadenham to tackle the blood sport in which dogs are used to chase and kill hares.

The event was attended by the Lincolnshire Police Rural Crime Action Team, Specialist Operations and representatives from the National Farmers’ Union.

L-R PC Phil Mcallister, PC Martin Green, PC Chris Windsor-Beck, Inspector Jason Baxter, Kev Taylor (drone operator), Andrew Ward (farmer), PC Karen Irving, Sgt Debbie Nunn, DC Jim Stevenson, DC Aaron Flint at the launch of Operation Galileo.
L-R PC Phil Mcallister, PC Martin Green, PC Chris Windsor-Beck, Inspector Jason Baxter, Kev Taylor (drone operator), Andrew Ward (farmer), PC Karen Irving, Sgt Debbie Nunn, DC Jim Stevenson, DC Aaron Flint at the launch of Operation Galileo.

New tactics and legislation contributed to a signifcant impact in reducing the number of incidents by 63 per cent over the last year.

Superintendent Lee Pache, head of Specialists Operations including rural crime, said that hare coursing is a huge issue for the county’s rural community and that it will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

He added: “We are really pleased with the difference that our dedicated Rural Crime Action Team is making, and we will continue to target criminals in rural areas, which is one of our force priorities.

“The illegal activity of hare coursing damages property threatens people's incomes and subjects people to fear and intimidation.

Launch of Operation Galileo hare coursing operation.
Launch of Operation Galileo hare coursing operation.
Sgt Debbie Nunn at the launch of Operation Galileo.
Sgt Debbie Nunn at the launch of Operation Galileo.

“Many of those are very unpleasant with violent and unscrupulous backgrounds, many of whom have links to organised criminality.

“Significant sums of money can change hands in the form of illegal betting and gambling on the outcome.”

Hare coursing was made illegal in 2004 and in August last year, new legislation made it an offence to go equipped for, search for, or pursue hares with dogs, and an offence to trespass with intent to search for or pursue hares with dogs.

Drone operator, Kev Taylor at the launch of Operation Galileo.
Drone operator, Kev Taylor at the launch of Operation Galileo.
Inspector Jason Baxter at the launch of Operation Galileo.
Inspector Jason Baxter at the launch of Operation Galileo.

During the most recent hare coursing season, which ran from September 2022 to March 2023, 32 arrests were made which was an increase of 400% compared to the previous period.

A total of 40 dogs believed to be used for hare coursing were seized, an increase of 60% compared to the previous period, and 12 Public Notices were issued to suspected hare coursers which is down by 436%.

A total of 573 incidents were reported to us over the six-month period. This compares to 570 reported incidents in just one month in the previous season.

Rhonda Thompson, an NFU county adviser, said: “We are pleased Lincolnshire Police are leading the way using the new legislation and we welcome the efforts being made by their Rural Crime Action Team and thank people for providing such important on-the-ground intelligence to help stop this awful crime.

“There is always more work to be done though and that includes farmers and the general public reporting more incidents to keep the issue high on the police agenda, and we must keep speaking with our MPs and raising awareness.”

PC Martin Green at the launch of Operation Galileo.
PC Martin Green at the launch of Operation Galileo.

Owner of Glebe Farm in Leadenham, Andrew Ward said: “The farming community is hugely appreciative to the Rural Crime Action Team for the efforts it is making in relation to rural crime.

“We work in collaboration with one another which is very important in the fight against these criminals.”

The Rural Crime Action Team were put in place to patrol and target rural crime including hare coursing, wildlife crime, arson, burglary and theft. They also offer crime prevention advice.

Operation Galileo is supported by a total of 32 forces nationally and works with partner agencies to deter and disrupt criminality such as hare coursing.

The police appeal to members of the public to not approach anyone suspected of hare coursing.

If anyone witnesses any live incidents of hare coursing is asked to call the police on 999 and note any vehicle descriptions or number plates if possible.

If they have any other information to help tackle the crime in the county, it is asked to call 101.



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