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Four arrests after hare coursing and police pursuit from Capel St Mary, Suffolk to Essex

PUBLISHED: 16:12 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 10 October 2017

Stock image of hare coursing. Picture: ARCHANT

Stock image of hare coursing. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A group of men suspected of hare coursing with dogs in the Suffolk countryside fled from police and were caught in Essex after a pursuit and a road crash.

Hares in the countryside. Stock photo. Picture: FRANCES CRICKMORE Hares in the countryside. Stock photo. Picture: FRANCES CRICKMORE

The incident started when Suffolk Constabulary was called to reports of a group of men with dogs and a vehicle in fields near Capel St Mary shortly after 2pm on Sunday, the force said.

Police units were dispatched and the vehicle described was located. The car, a black Subaru, made off from officers and was involved in a road traffic collision but failed to stop. It is understood that nobody was injured as a result.

A short police pursuit then took place in north Essex before the vehicle stopped and the occupants decamped.

Three men and one teenage boy, all from the Surrey area, were arrested on suspicion of hare coursing, dangerous driving, fail to stop following a collision, and fail to stop when requested to do so by an officer.

The suspects were taken to the Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and have been released under investigation.

In a separate incident on Sunday, police received reports at 1.05pm of a group of men with dogs and a vehicle in fields near Rickinghall, Diss, Suffolk Constabulary said.

Following the reports, officers stopped a white Mitsubishi Shogun vehicle in Old Newton, near Stowmarket a short time later and the occupants were spoken to.

The vehicle was seized under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Nick Stonehouse, head of the rural policing unit at Suffolk Constabulary, said there is growing concern among farmers over the crime but said they must keep a cool head and stay inside their homes to record the activity.

It comes after police issued details of a hare coursing incident which turned into a police chase from Capel St Mary to Essex.

In August, landowners voiced concerns over an anticipated rise in hare coursing over the harvest.

Hare coursing is a rural crime where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares, with those involved often betting large sums of money on the outcome.

Mr Stonehouse said the force receives several reports of hare coursing each day. He said more go unreported due to threats.

He said: “It is certainly affecting us this year. I spoke to farmers (at a rural crime meeting yesterday morning) and it is a real headache for them. One was told he shouldn’t report it, otherwise they would return and burn down his house with his kids in it. It was sufficiently worrying for him not to report it. Our advice is for farmers to not go out and confront them. Remain inside and record what’s going on – video if you can, and notes on the registration plate and suspects. I understand why they do (confront criminals) as it is their livelihood and property, but there are better ways.”

A spokesperson for the RPSCA said: “Hare coursing is horrific in terms of animal welfare. It involves dogs being set upon hares for a so-called ‘sport’.

“The RSPCA firmly believes that the cruel practice of chasing and killing live animals with dogs is a barbaric and outdated pastime and has no place in modern Britain.

“This is a sentiment echoed by the vast majority of the British public.

“Hare coursing was banned under the Hunting Act 2004.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact Suffolk police on 101. quoting reference 65871/17 (Capel St Mary) or 65843/17.

For more information on the Hunting Act, visit our website at https://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/hunting.

Anyone with any information about any animal welfare offence should call the RSPCA, in strictest confidence, on 03001234 999.

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