New Forest East

HOME AFFAIRS – ILLEGAL HARE COURSING [51568] - 20 September 2021

HOME AFFAIRS – ILLEGAL HARE COURSING [51568] - 20 September 2021

Dr Julian Lewis:  To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the scale of the threat posed to farmers by illegal hare coursing on their land, in respect of (a) personal intimidation, (b) damage to gates when forcing access and (c) risk of retaliation against vulnerable farm property, in response to intruders being challenged; what estimate she has made of the scale of the illegal betting rings involved in that criminality; and what discussions her officials have held with the Ministry of Justice on (i) raising substantially the maximum fine from its present level of £1,000 and (ii) imposing custodial sentences on serious offenders.  [51568]

[Due for Answer on 23 September]


The Minister of State for Crime and Policing (Kit Malthouse): This government remains committed to driving down crime in communities, including those which particularly affect rural areas such as hare coursing. Although the scale of harm associated with hare coursing is not captured centrally, this government recognises its impact, which is why we are investing in the financial and operational capabilities of the police, as well as working closely with DEFRA to develop its legislative proposals contained in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

All decisions on sentencing is a matter for our independent courts, which upon making a decision take into account the circumstances of the offence and any aggravating and mitigating factors. Any changes to the sentencing guidelines will be a decision for the Independent Sentencing Council.