HARE coursers and poachers are “not welcome” in Essex, police officers have said.

Essex Police has issued a stern warning to would-be hare coursers and poachers to stay away from the county ahead of the beginning of a new  coursing season.

Incidents of hare coursing in Essex dropped by half this year to 180 by March 31 compared with the 363 recorded in the previous 12 months. 

Forces in Essex and Kent have been working to crack down on coursing under Operation Galileo, a borderless scheme making it easier for officers to catch offenders. 

Officers have also started to work more closely with National Police Air Service helicopters and drones to improve spotting hare coursers in action, tracking the suspects and directing officers on the ground to locate and arrest them. 

Sergeant Paul Brady said: “Our work with NPAS, neighbouring police forces and the CPS means that hare coursers are increasingly avoiding our county because there is a higher chance we will catch them. 

“We’ve seen a significant drop in incidents reported in Essex since we started Operation Galileo two years ago.  

“Key to this is the removal of policing borders when certain tactics are used, which has made arresting and prosecuting offenders much easier.”