There is growing concern regarding the policing of hunts and the police failing to clamp down on illegal hunting activity and the violent attacks on monitors who are doing the job the police should be doing, out in the fields, filming and collecting evidence of illegal activity.
Some MP’s are now actually calling for a review of the way police handle hunting crime.
Law Enforcement Agencies
The law banning hunting with hounds in 2004 was filled with loopholes thus enabling hunting to continue virtually unimpeded and making a mockery out of the legal system. This flouting of the law has brought the legal system into disrepute.
Serious crimes against the public/monitors by hunts include: attacks on hunt monitors/sabs; vehicles/horses ridden in to them; assaults with whips, chains, knives and fists; racial and sexual abuse; rape/death threats; theft of equipment; vandalism of cars and property.
Police often ignore other blatant law breaking by hunts eg illegal quadbike driving offences; unlicensed vehicles; uncontrolled animals on major roads; badger sett blocking; fox kills; trespass by hunts; unlawful activity by terriermen; no checks on gun licences; no checks on written permission of landowners; no checks on microchipping of hounds; no checks on horse passports; failure to investigate scent laying lies.
These are well documented and reported but are rarely, or adequately, dealt with by police. Why?
Due to lack of policing and prosecution of these crimes have increased, hunts have become so blatant in their illegal activities, they now dont even try to hide the fact.
It must be questioned if the police and government have completely lost control over these illegal activities which is clearly their own fault.
If police are over-stretched, lack resources and operate under a priority system, this may give opportunities for certain criminals to ’get away with it‘. This is especially for crimes categorised as ‘low priority’ and their prosecution seen as difficult, timely and costly.
Soon after the ban was enacted witnesses contacting the police with alleged suspicious activity found that the police often did not investigate or often did not take them seriously.
The following are examples sent to IFAW in 2007 by LACS. They record reactions of police officers when members of the public allegedly reported or discussed incidents believed to be illegal hunting. These individuals subsequently called LACS’ Hunt Crimewatch hotline, or emailed and reported the incident, including the police reaction. IFAW cannot verify that the underlying hunting events or police reactions occurred, but only that the following reports were relayed to IFAW by LACS:
These are a few small examples :
Avon & Somerset
* Avon & Somerset Police – 21/02/2007: Caller reported that she called the police to report the (…) chasing a fox outside her cottage. The police said, “Don’t worry they are probably putting on some kind of exhibition”. Police later claimed that the officer said “Are you sure they weren’t on their way to a show?”
* Avon & Somerset Police – 25/01/2007: Caller reported something being chased by dogs and riders. Police called and Officer said he would love to do something about it but he had been told not to go out to calls on hunting.
Devon & Cornwall
* Devon & Cornwall Police – week prior to 16/01/2007: caller spoke to officer at Police Station. “I am only interested in potential public order not illegal hunting. I have to look at it but I’m not interested in it”, in reference to video footage.
* Durham Constabulary – 23/01/2007: Caller reported that (…) Hunt rammed her car on 13/01/2007 and vandalised it as she tried to film the hunt. Police recommended that LACS send a letter to the Chairman of the hunt with licence plates of monitor cars so the hunt knows they are monitors and not perverts.
* Essex Police – 21/02/2007: Caller witnessed the hounds of the (…) Hunt catching them ragging a fox (when the fox is thrown to the hounds to be ripped apart). The police response was As far as I am aware as long as they don’t kill the fox it’s legal.
* Hertfordshire Constabulary – 01/03/2007: Caller called Station to report (…) Hunt before Christmas and the officer said he was on his own and had to cook 3 breakfasts so was unable to assist.
* Thames Valley Police – 8/01/2007: Caller reported that ex-policeman informed her that his colleagues in police were fed up with her taking photos of the (…) Hunt.
* Staffordshire Police – 06/02/2007: The (…) Hunt regularly seen in full cry, riding where they know foxes to be holed and ‘accidentally’ flushing them out. In December 2006 the police were contacted, and on enquiring if a fox had to be killed before they would take action, caller was told the police officer would have to speak to their superiors before they could comment.
* West Mercia Constabulary – 17/01/2007: (…) Hunts hounds present on callers land for the 3rd time this season; hunt personnel just laughed when she complained so she called the police, who advised ‘stay indoors’.
* Wiltshire Constabulary – 11/01/2007: People who tried to film the (…) Hunt on Boxing Day were harassed in front of the local police unit. The (…) Hunt deliberately and consistently hunted on Boxing Day, straying on to a very busy railway line on several occasions. Needless to say the police did nothing to stop their activities. This was not the first time Wiltshire Police did not intervene. On a recent hunt with the (…), an attending police officer was informed that the huntsman was hunting his entire pack. The police officer insisted that he had spoken to (…), and was happy that only 2 dogs were being used. When it was brought to his attention that (…) was hunting his entire pack across a public highway (something which he could actually see for himself), his response was: “you better realise that you’re in the countryside now”.
* Dyfed Powys Police – Nov-Dec 2006: Caller from (…) reported 5 different hunts in his area to Dyfed Powys; told join the hunt to find out what’s going on .
* North Wales Police – Station (November 2006): Officer on duty said they were undermanned and the majority of his colleagues were sympathetic to hunting.
* South Wales Police – (November 2006): Police called to report illegal hunting. Officer said: So? Who says it’s against the law, I’m a hunt supporter – what do you want me to do about it? Do you want to continue the conversation? I’m going to do nothing; do you want my superiors name so that you can report me?
David Whitehouse former Chief Superintendent of Warwickshire Police is also a regular supporter of the Warwickshire Hunt. Whitehouse was part of the police for 35 years leaving only four years ago. Might this explain why the Warwickshire Hunt and other hunts in Warwickshire (such as the Atherstone) have avoided prosecution during his time as a serving officer? Would this not have been a conflict of interest?
Last year Whitehouse also tried and failed to get himself elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Warwickshire Hunt however as Philip Seccombe was elected to this position. Seccombe a former Conservative Councillor on Stratford Upon Avon District Council seconded a motion in 2003 that resulted in the Council voting to back the House of Lords attempt to wreck the hunting ban. Seccombe’s wife is leader of Warwickshire County Council and his mom is in the house of lords. There are other members of the Warwickshire Hunt who are also in the House of Lords.
We are aware that there are serving officers within Warwickshire Police who have connections to the Warwickshire Hunt. We revealed a few years ago that the huntsman of the North Warwickshire Beagles (who share the same kennels as the Atherstone) was a serving officer with Warwickshire Police.
LEICESTERSHIRE POLICE / ASHLEY DAVIES UPDATE
**”We believe Leicestershire Police’s hunting unit is compromised and loses more and more credibility with every incident like this”**
A few weeks ago many of you will have seen the video we posted of the Atherstone Hunt chairperson’s son-in-law – Ashley Davies riding people down on his quad bike https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/videos/1208353215976417/
This was not the first time he had used violence. Last season we filmed him running at us with an metal bar https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/videos/988138277997913/
This incident was reported to Leicestershire Police who inevitably took no further action. It was this lack of action which we believe resulted in Davies believing he could get away with much worse. Detective Inspector Paul Kenyon of Leicestershire Police’s hunting unit then tried to blame us the victims of this crime claiming that the reason it was dropped was because we hadn’t made a statement about it. We told him a statement had been made and that we still had the email trail to prove it. The name of the officer who the statement was made to? PC Rob Cross, the wildlife officer who can be heard advising the Atherstone Hunt on which laws can and cannot be used against sabs, the same officer who we have had complaints about from members of the public (emails that we still have) who felt he didn’t take their reports of a fox killed by the Atherstone Hunt seriously and didn’t originally log it as a crime and actually questioned them if they were sure they had seen a fox being killed (this also resulted in no further action being taken). The same officer who members of the Atherstone Hunt claimed had told them information about an active investigation.
Leicestershire Police’s continued collusion with the Atherstone Hunt is now not just having an impact on hunting cases it is starting to put people’s safety at risk.
We can’t be sure exactly what has happened here but it looks like the statement wasn’t handed over to the people it should have been handed over to. We believe Leicestershire Police’s hunting unit is compromised and loses more and more credibility with every incident like this. With the Atherstone Hunt in the mess it is currently in they are now relying on Leicestershire Police more than ever. More updates to follow…
28-8-16 Facebook – HYPERLINK “https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/videos/918455174966224/”W.MidsHYPERLINK “https://www.facebook.com/WestMidsHuntSabs/videos/918455174966224/” Sabs On 3/10/15 nine hunt stewards assaulted three females sabs. Of the nine, Leicestershire Police only charged three of them despite knowing the identity of several of the other men. Whilst giving a statement to the police one of the victims described how one masked up steward made sexual threats to her, PC Tom White replied that it was only her opinion that 9 men making sexual threats amounted to sexual harassment.
Tips for police forces
How to ensure a lawful hunt.
Add together a team of dedicated hunt sabs, the knowledge of hunt monitors, two police officers who actually care about upholding the hunting laws, our wildlife and don’t mind getting their boots dirty to uphold the law.
RESULT : — No wildlife killed, — Law upheld, — No attacks from hunt thugs, — No violence, — Hunts enjoying their day, — No hounds running riot all over road and causing public nuisance, — Everyone happy.
If only there was a mix of the same team at every hunt.
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