Hare coursing, once a legal “field sport” has been taken over by criminal gangs since being made illegal by the 2004 Hunting Act.

The gangs operate mainly in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk and set a number of starved dogs after a hare, which is torn to pieces when caught. The film of the chase is then played in pubs around the country with the gangs offering betting on the outcome of which dog gets to the hare first.

A recent increase in hare-coursing has been blamed on the closure of a special five-person police unit set up to deal with the illegal meetings.

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