Organised criminals streaming hare coursing to Chinese gamblers

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Telegraph reporters
·2 min read
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Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said hare coursing is being 'webcast live to betting syndicates in China' - Tom Richardson/Alamy
Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said hare coursing is being 'webcast live to betting syndicates in China' - Tom Richardson/Alamy

Hare coursing is being streamed live to Chinese gamblers by organised criminals, a senior politician has revealed.

Luke Pollard, the shadow environment secretary, said rural offending can be "incredibly profitable" and result in "big money" for those involved.

He said one example of this type of crime involves "highly organised criminals" hare coursing and streaming the events to China, where they are bet on.

The practice involves dogs, usually greyhounds or lurchers, which are trained to chase and overtake a hare that has been flushed out by a line of beaters.

Mr Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: "It's incredibly profitable work, and there is big money involved with this hare coursing. For instance, I was hearing about how it's webcast live to betting syndicates in China.

"So we're not talking about some people organising an illicit activity in a barn somewhere – we're talking about highly organised criminals preying on rural communities."

Mr Pollard said he had been told gangs in rural communities knew their crimes would not be reported or, if they were, that they would not get caught.

He added: "We know that rural communities have seen the real brunt of the cut to police numbers since 2010. And we know that it takes a very long time for an emergency response – not because the police aren't working hard enough, simply because there's not enough of them and the geographies they have to cover are so big.

"It's really increased the fear around rural crime. And we know that there are criminal gangs preying on rural communities, not just in terms of county lines but also in terms of the threats to people living in rural communities."

Mr Pollard's comments come after the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales and the Countryside Alliance called on police and crime commissioners to put rural policing at the forefront of their agenda.

Tim Bonner, the Countryside Alliance chief executive, said: "The real danger is rural policing gets locked into a cycle of decline because the perception is the police are not taking it seriously. The theft of a tractor is just as relevant as someone's factory being trashed in a town. These are often serious, organised criminals and they are prepared to commit violent acts."

Mr Pollard said: "Part of the challenge I think, at the heart of it, is to look at rural life the way it actually is now, not through picture postcards or our romantic views of rural life in the past but what's it like today. There's such pride in our countryside from the people who live there – but there are problems that need addressing."