Wales Update : Welsh Wildlife Coordinator appointed
(For the purpose of clarification, we have described all those people who monitor hunts and try to prevent illegal hunting as “Hunt Monitors”)
Rob Taylor (ex-police officer and civilian manager of North Wales Rural Crime Team) has been appointed as “Wales Wildlife Coordinator“.
While the appointment of a Wales Wildlife Coordinator is welcomed, the person being appointed is highly questionable, especially when Rob Taylor is under investigation by Police Professional Standards.
This is probably not one of Lesley Griffiths best decisions.
We spoke to a group who monitor hunts in North Wales who informed us of their dealings with Rob Taylor (North Wales Rural Crime Team).
It is so important Wales appoints a person who is appropriate for the job, who is impartial and disproportionate policing becomes a thing of the past to restore trust in rural policing.
Here’s what the group told us :
Appalling Record : Despite their being a number of notorious hunts in North Wales who regularly engage in illegal foxhunting, North Wales Rural Crime team has NEVER secured a prosecution against illegal foxhunting.
Submitting Evidence : Evidence has been submitted a number of times but cases always seem to get dropped at a very late stage by police or failed due to the police (Rob Taylor) sitting on cases “time out”.
On numerous times over the years we’ve submitted evidence of illegal hunting to the rural crime team but nothing has ever been investigated properly, we do understand the hunting act is stacked in favour of the hunt. But in September 2020 we filmed the hunt hunting a fox with the huntsman in the shot, this is exactly what the rural crime team have asked us for when they’re previously rebuffed our footage. All officers involved in this case were confident this would be going to court. We informed the police on three occasions that there is a 6 months time limit on hunting act offences, the police assured us it would not run out of time. Three days before the time limit, we contacted the police again, they told us the case was with Rob Taylor. A few days later once the time limit had expired we were told that Rob Taylor had took it upon himself to discontinue the case whilst the case was still being looked at by the CPS. NWP themselves were furious with Taylor’s actions. Is it another coincidence that this footage of illegal hunting was filmed on the same land as where the rural crime team have their stall at the Denbigh and Flint show? This matter is now with police professional standards.
This has raised many concerns about Rob Taylor’s management and he is currently under investigation by Police Professional Standards
Tipping off the Hunt : Rod Taylor’s team have also been accused by the group of tipping of the hunt on their where about’s while out monitoring
They stated, It was one of the rural crime team who tipped off the hunt of our whereabouts which resulted in an assault from a hunt member … the police lied and said they weren’t in the area …. In the court documents it emerged that the police drone team had tipped off the hunt to our whereabouts which resulted in the assault, a freedom of information proved.
Operation Yada : Rob Taylor was questioned about a secret police operation in collaboration with a local hunt, aimed at removing members of the public who monitor hunts . Rob Taylor didn’t respond until he issued a video on 31 July. In the video, team manager Rob Taylor lied and denied knowing about an ‘Operation Yada’ and suggested it “doesn’t even exist”. A freedom of information request revealed and confirmed there was in fact “Operation Yada”.
Also, the following day, NorthWalesLive published an article. The article quoted NWP chief inspector Jeff Moses, who said the force: has a well-established operation in place to police the issues surrounding hunt activities and to investigate any offences which are evident or reported. This operation has a command structure and detailed plans which make it clear that we police any incidents with impartiality and that we will facilitate peaceful protest. As police monitoring group Netpol pointed out, this statement appeared to contradict Taylor’s claim the day before.
The comment posted by Rob Taylor… was particularly contemptuous towards members of the public expressing concerns about the force’s relationship with the Flint & Denbigh Hunt. The denial of any knowledge of ‘Operation Yada’ and the dismissal of questions about it as conspiracy theories is astonishing when North Wales Police has been conducting ‘Operation Yada’, for three years.
It is also shocking that the police seem more concerned about stopping people monitoring hunts, than they do about hunts committing illegal hunting offences.
Police do not seem to have any “prevention strategy” in place to prevent illegal foxhunting, neither do they seem interested in policing or investigating illegal foxhunting.
Link : https://www.thecanary.co/feature/2019/08/08/north-wales-police-response-to-concern-over-its-handling-of-hunt-saboteurs-raises-serious-questions/?fbclid=IwAR1oNr7UZnFs0fdhk-NeY6ewil9y2Qqwn1GMC1qJkYlr488Zv40m0Tkc-vo
Badger Baiting Case : North Wales Rural Crime team did once secure a conviction against badger baiters, David Thomas and Jordan Houlsten, however, they need to thank the hunt monitor group who supplied information to the RSPCA for the cases success.
Badger Setts : The group also told us : Another day in Trefnant, we caught the hunt terrier men practically red handed as they rode off from a badger sett that had just been filled in. We immediately called the police, and fair play a Sergeant from Denbigh station was soon on the scene and took photos of the badger sett. We informed the Sergeant he should confiscate the shovels off the back of the quad to take soil samples. The police said “we can’t do that”, we asked them to get the rural crime team out. The police replied “it’s Saturday, they don’t work Saturdays”, this seems to have become a running joke with the local police, it’s been repeated numerous times when we’ve asked for the rural crime team to attend an illegal hunting incident. It’s clear the rural crime team are not liked by other departments of the police. One officer told us that the rural crime team set their own rota’s to give themselves the weekends off “when the hunts are out” (apart from a weekend if there’s a nice country show to go to or a bit of TV work).
A few weeks later one of the rural crime team phoned me up asking if I had any suspicions of who may have interfered with a different badger sett. I asked what happened about the sett filled in by the hunt? He replied he’d had a word with the landowner and that’s the end of that!. Coincidentally the landowner is Anthony Griffiths (Flint and Denbigh hunt secretary), he also happens to own the land that the rural crime team have a stall on at the Denbigh and Flint show. The same land the Flint and Denbigh hunt illegally hunt on practically every other week.
Ignoring Assaults by hunt members : On another occasion, after years of asking and almost begging North Wales Rural Crime Team to come out and monitor the illegal fox hunts, we were delighted to see one of the team turn up at a meeting of the Flint and Denbigh hunt in Trefnant, he even had his drone with him! But a short time later that day, the wildlife officer (PC Dewi Evans) witnessed a particularly violent member of the hunt assault two monitors. At the same time hounds had gone into cry on the trail of a fox.
The monitors entered the field to try and stop a crime “the hounds chasing a fox”, the hunt member assaulted two of the monitors but when a monitor pushed back in self defence. PC Dewi Evans arrested the monitor, totally ignoring the hounds in cry and the two assaults.
It was clear who’s side the rural crime team were on and who they were trying to protect.
We have to question why a manager of a rural crime team (Rob Taylor) has been appointed as “Wales Wildlife Coordinator” when clearly it seems he has biased tendencies towards which crimes are policed.
Coming out in the wash
In January, Cheshire Police issued a now-deleted statement that said video footage online “frequently… does not reflect the full scenario”. It was referring to footage that Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs made public on social media. However, Cheshire’s PCC David Keane challenged the statement as “inappropriate” and, as a result, the police took the statement back. But the incident appeared to be an attempt to undermine public trust in evidence put forward by those who monitor hunts.
Hunting wild animals with dogs is illegal. Monitors ensure hunts aren’t breaking the law. Yet the Rob Taylor (North Wales Rural Crime Team Manager) felt it was appropriate to issue a misleading statement. But now, the truth has “come out in the wash”. And it raises serious questions about the NWP Rural Crimes Team’s impartiality.