Tough new measures to tackle illegal hare coursing have come into force in England and Wales, anyone caught will now face an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison.
The measures introduced under the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 include:
- Increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game under the Game Acts (the Game Act 1831 and the Night Poaching Act 1828) to an unlimited fine and introducing the possibility of up to six months’ imprisonment.
- Two new criminal offences: trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare; and being equipped to trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare. Both are punishable on conviction by an unlimited fine and/or up to six months’ imprisonment.
- New powers for the courts to order, on conviction, the reimbursement of costs incurred by the police in kennelling dogs seized in connection with a hare coursing-related offence.
- New powers for the courts to make an order, on conviction, disqualifying an offender from owning or keeping a dog.
The legislation has been welcomed by a wide range of rural and countryside organisations, including BASC.
Glynn Evans, BASC head of game and gundogs, said: “BASC has long supported new legislative measures to tackle illegal hare coursing, acknowledging its impact on the rural sector and communities. These new powers will better equip police forces to tackle both illegal hare coursing and associated crimes.”