Specialist rural officers at North Yorkshire Police have vowed to reduce poaching even further with the help of tough new legislation.

This week the Government announced new measures to tackle the crime including increasing sentences to up to six months in jail and introducing two new criminal offences relating to trespassing with the intention of hare coursing.

New powers have also been granted for the courts to order, on conviction, the reimbursement of costs incurred by the police in kennelling dogs seized in connection with hare coursing.

The measures come into force as North Yorkshire Police reveals poaching was reduced by 60 per cent in the latter months of last season.

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The crime also saw an overall year-on-year reduction of 32 per cent across the county, following a raft of proactive police approaches.

In 2016 North Yorkshire Police launched its dedicated Rural Task Force which sees specially-trained officers focus on rural crime including theft, poaching and wildlife crime.

Rural Task Force Inspector Clive Turner said: “The restrictions around the pandemic limited people’s movements, so inevitably when these were lifted many police forces recorded a rise in rural crime figures.

“Rural crime is a very broad category and covers a lot of offences, but poaching is an area we’ve been particularly keen to target here in North Yorkshire.

“Last season we made substantial inroads into poaching, which causes real concern among rural communities, massive damage to crops and livestock and often includes the illegal use of weapons and dogs.

“At the beginning of the season we saw roughly the same amount of poaching reports as the previous year.

“However, after a lot of police proactivity and operations throughout the season we reduced offences by 60 per cent in the latter months, which is a result any police force would be proud of.

“We used methods to not only catch offenders but also prevent offences happening in the first place – things like community protection warnings and notices.

“This season we are working jointly with neighbouring forces to extend the use of these measures and cover a much larger area, so we expect this substantial reduction in crime to continue.

“We’ll also be using this new legislation around hare coursing to stop people indulging in this cruel act.

“All officers, PCSOs and control room staff will receive training on how to deal with hare coursing offences.

“We’re confident this will reduce rural crime even further and maintain the significant progress we’re making here in North Yorkshire.”

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