A POLICE helicopter and fixed wing plane have been deployed as part of a police operation against hare coursing in East Yorkshire.

Humberside Police said that in recent weeks, the force had seen people travelling to the area each weekend to commit the wildlife crime on private land.

"Hare coursing is barbaric and illegal and as a sport is banned," said a spokesperson.

"With no regard for the law, criminal gangs are still travelling to our area, despite the national lockdown, and trespassing on private farmland to hunt hares with dogs."

They said three men were arrested on Wednesday suspicion of hunting with dogs when they were reported by a resident near Grimbthorpe, near Bubwith, north of Howden.

"This initial report came from a local resident. However, it was quickly disseminated around the Farmwatch community in the area. Our Rural Task Force was sent to action with one of our four Rural Task Force officers, PC Kevin Jones, first to respond co-ordinating the incident with further support from the Farmwatch community, neighbourhood/patrol and traffic officers.

"The regional Air Support NPAS21 helicopter came to assist with the search for the offenders and assisted in detaining two suspects and the NPAS84 fixed wing plane also assisted to detain the final, third, suspect.

"With Farmwatch community members passing regular updates and assisting officers on the ground with movement across land, this was truly a joint effort that resulted in not only the arrest of the three men but the seizure of a VW Caddy van and three dogs were also seized under the Hunting Act.

"The men have been questioned and released under investigation as our inquiries continue.

“We thank the local community and members of Farmwatch who assisted us during this incident.

“Being a key part of Farmwatch allows us to have eyes and ears in some of our remote locations and we will continue to grow on this partnership work within our farming community to assist with the disruption of rural, wildlife and heritage crime.

“Throughout the winter months we have had some good results with seven men due to appear in court on charges of hare coursing on land Wetwang on 4 October, Rotsea (near Cranswick) on 1 November and Nafferton on 15 November.

“These results send a clear message to those who are thinking about coming into the East Riding of Yorkshire to commit wildlife crime. We will take positive action on every occasion, and will look at utilising all the available legislation to prevent, deter and prosecute those who decide to engage in criminality around our countryside and to protect our rural community.

“Wherever we have the evidence we will prosecute offenders and we welcome the help of our rural communities in letting us know of incidents in their area. If people see anything suspicious they should always call 101 to report their concern to us.”