Lack of Police Strategy
The problem with the current bad state and decline of law enforcement in the UK is that we are currently stuck between four main evils:
- The government cuts and poor allocation of available funds.
- The police using this as an excuse to cherry pick which laws they enforce and respond to.
- Hunts abusing loop holes in the law which may result in police reluctance to waste any funding on cases which are hard to achieve a conviction.
- Directive from the top (i.e : Attorney General, Policing Minister, NPCC etc). Our current Tory government have made it very clear they do not support the law on hunting.
If the police perceive an illegal activity not worthy of spending time and money on to investigate due to the poor conviction rate then they simply won’t bother.
This will affect many crimes not just those in relation to the Hunting Act.
However, there are many laws that hunts break, not just those related to the Hunting Act, so why are police also failing to enforce these other crimes. ?
Police Crime Commissioners (PCC)
It is the PCC job to ensure the police are held to account and ensure effective policing in your area, so It is important you put pressure on PCC to investigate issues concerning lack of law enforcement for hunt related crimes.
You are perfectly with-in your right to question your local PCC strategy on reducing crime and any failings.
Remember the role of the PCC is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.
Elections for PCCs took place on 5 May 2016 in England and Wales (not in London and Greater Manchester). PCC’s hold office for 4 years which means they are up for re-election in 2020. If you feel your PCC is failing to ensure that police are held to account for their lack of law enforement relating to hunting crimes, it maybe time to vote for another PCC who will ensure laws on animal welfare and hunting is policed.
List of Police Crime Commissioners
Link : https://foxhuntingevidenceuk.com/police-commissioner-iopc/police-commissioner-listings/
Link : https://foxhuntingevidenceuk.com/area-contacts/
Do the police have any strategy for policing illegal hunting
Illegal cub hunting is now in progress across the country.
Hunts will surround a wooded area/covert containing a fox family. They will then send in a young pack of hounds to train them to kill in preparation for the main hunting season. If they try to escape, the hunters will shout and smack their riding boots with whips to frighten the cubs and drive them back inside the covert – and into the waiting jaws of the hounds to be ripped apart.
Some will be allowed to escape (disbursed) to enable them to breed and be hunted at a later date.
Some maybe bagged and used to train hounds to kill later at the hunt kennels.
If the fox manages to seek refuge and hides in a hole (goes to ground) they will be dug out by terriermen who will send their terrier dog down the hole to fight, kill, drive out or drag the cubs which will then be thrown alive to the pack of hounds to be ripped apart. This is one of the most brutal parts of hunting.
Hunts will lie and claim they are just exercising their hounds.
How can the police prevent illegal hunting
There are lots of ways the police could prevent illegal hunting if they decided to actually do so.
Hunts also regularly commit many crimes that do not fall under the Hunting Act legislation, therefore the police can’t keep using loopholes as an excuse for lack of police action.
Questions to ask PCC’s and Police
Question : What preventative measures/strategy have the police put in place to prevent illegal hunting taking place and all of the hunts associated crimes. ?
Some police forces do have a published rural strategy… but it often fails to mention how police will enforce the law relating to illegal fox hunting and its associated crimes.
A transparent and clear strategy is needed to restore public faith in the police and PCC. There is little point in having meetings if no action is ever put into practice. The public want to witness a crack down on illegal hunting, cub hunting, associated crimes and the hunts’ rising violence.
Questions to ask : Preventative measures
- Have the police compiled a public awareness campaign to inform the public about illegal hunting. ?
- Have the police raised the point of illegal hunting on their website or have they decided not to inform the public about illegal foxhunting. ?
- Have the police contacted their local anti hunt groups for a pre-season meeting to ensure an effective, workable and realistic plan is in place (not just lip service for the gullible). ?
- Have the police attended courses to recognise horn calls which control hounds and encourage them to chase foxes ? If so, can we actually invite the police to a test to ensure they do have the understanding of this as it helps prove intent. ?
- Have the police conducted under cover operations (same as the do with hare coursing which they seem to have the funds to do this). ?
- Have the police increased their presence out in the field on hunting days to prevent illegal hunting ? or do the police still sit in their cars and watch the hunts go by. ?
Police claim they do not have enough funding or officers to police hunts, however police regularly attend hunts but sadly it seems not to uphold the laws on hunting crimes.
- Do the police still have the directive to just police hunts for public disorder or are they now going to actually uphold the law on illegal hunting and its associated crimes as well. ?
- Have the police adopted the use of drones to follow hunts to ensure they do not illegally hunt foxes, hare, deer, mink. ?
- Have police increased their surveillance of hunt kennels to ensure the hunts are not using live foxes to teach hounds to kill. ? (Spot checks may be in order).
- Have the police started to enforce the law regarding the use of illegal quad bikes on roads by hunts. ie overloaded, no tax, no insurance, not road safe. ?
- Have the police ensured hunts are not blocking roads trying to prevent monitors collecting evidence. ?
- Have the police ensured monitors are not intimidated, assaulted, threatened by hunts and their followers. ?
- Has the PCC ensured an effective allocation of funds has been set aside to deal with illegal fox hunting ?. i.e the same as they do with : hare coursing, egg poaching, raptor percussion etc …. or is the practice of cherry picking which rural laws to uphold still in practice. ?
- Have the police corrected their “reporting a hunting crime” priority point allocation scale which seems to list any hunt related reported crime as low priority. ?
- Do the police stop and search terriermen to ensure they are not carrying equipment to illegally dig out foxes and ask to see the appropriate written permission ? If so who holds the gun licence. ?
Stop and search
The police have the right to detain a person and their vehicle for the purposes of a search if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they have ; Tools which could be used to commit a crime.
- Do the police ensure that badger setts are not destroyed by terriermen or do they even check this. ?
- Has the police ensured an effective plan is put into place to prevent hounds running dangerously uncontrolled on the roads dodging in between traffic putting motorist lives at risk. ?
- Do the police ensure the hounds are not fouling in public places or do we have double standards and laws for hunts and their dogs. ? Do police ensure hounds are micro chipped and can be identified when left dead at the side of the road or on a railway line. ?
- Are the police ensuring hunts are not trespassing on land they do not have permission to be on. ?
- What preventative strategy do the police have in place to ensure hunts do not invade public places and attack domestic animals. ?
- Has the police ensured that hunt riders are not galloping up main roads, jumping fences from main roads, putting the welfare of their horse at risk and other road users and what strategy have the police put into place to prevent this. ?
- Do the police actually enforce or collect evidence of any of the above ? If so why aren’t we seeing more arrests to restore public faith in police or to convince the public that police are actually doing their job upholding the law. ?
- HAVE THE POLICE PUT ANY EFFECTIVE PREVENTATIVE STRATEGY INTO PLACE TO PREVENT ILLEGAL FOX HUNTING AND ALL THE ASSOCIATED LAWS THAT HUNTS BREAK. ?
The above list contains mostly questions that does not involve crimes governed under the Hunting Act legislation, therefore no reason to keep using loopholes in the Hunting Act as an excuse for lack of law enforcement.
The public should not have to do the job of policing hunts and collecting evidence for the police.
We all know hunts continue to illegally hunt. Only the stupid, naive, or those with a hidden agenda would believe the blatant lie about trail hunting.
Ask your local PCC and Police to clearly set out their prevention strategy to each of the above 23 questions.
Other hunt-related crimes not being fully policed or investigated :
- Illegal use of quad bikes on roads.
- Reckless driving.
- Hunt hounds out of control on roads.
- Hunt hounds fouling in public places.
- Ignoring dog micro-chipping laws.
- Hounds out of control invading private gardens and attacks on domestic pets.
- Blocking and destroying of badger setts.
- Illegal digging out.
- Illegal use of terriermen and their dogs.
- Assault on monitors, saboteurs and public.
- Assault with a weapon (ie horses and whips).
- Criminal damage (damage to monitors vehicles etc).
- Theft of equipment.
- Illegal blocking of roads to avoid being filmed.
- Obstruction of justice (tactics to block the filming of evidence).
- Trespass by hunts.
- Animal welfare issues.
- Intimidation, abuse.
- Dangerous reckless galloping on roads.
- Inspection and licensing of hunt kennels.
Hunting Act & loop holes
The “Hunting with Dogs Act 2004” came into force in February 2005.
although some people say this is the worst written Act in UK history which is full of loop holes and basically allows hunts to carry on hunting.
Sadly this weak law is the only law that offers some protection to our wildlife.
With 84% of the country against this barbaric hunting activity people have to question if our Tory government is totally out of touch with the public and is pandering to their hunting sponsors to secure votes and donations. ?
Strengthen the Hunting Act
To help solve enforcement problems and ensure that animals are protected in the way the Hunting Act intended, seven immediate amendments to the Hunting Act are needed :
1. Prohibit the use of dogs to pursue animals underground.
This is arguably where the worst cruelty occurs in hunting, not only to wild foxes or badgers pursued underground with limited opportunity to escape but also to the terrier dogs sent below ground to find these animals and either flush them out, fight or hold them at bay.
2. Insert a “reckless” provision to stop hunters using the false alibi of trail hunting and ensure the killing of wild mammals cannot be excuse as an accident.
There is no such sport as trail hunting and it is simply a cover for illegal hunting. We believe the best way to deal with the false alibi of trail hunting is to include a reckless provision in the Act, which would enable people to be prosecuted not only they intended to hunt wild mammals with dogs, but also they were reckless by not preventing and controlling their dogs from doing so.
3. Punishments must be increased to genuine deterrent levels and include the option of imprisonment to be brought inline with other Wild Mamals protection Acts.
Like many animal protection laws, the effectiveness of the Hunting Act is limited by the lenient punishments available to the courts. However, penalties under the Hunting Act are not strong compared with other animal legislation. We believe this disparity trivialises Hunting Act offences in the eyes of many offenders and the legal system. Sentences should be brought in line with the Protection of Badgers Act and Wild Mammals Protection Act, with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.
4. Removing the Observation and Research exemption that has been systematically abused and exploited by stag hunts.
The three remaining stag hunts in England have been trying out different exemptions of the Hunting Act to enable them to continue hunting. They tried the ‘flushing to guns’ exemption and the ‘rescuing an injured mammal’ exemption, but they both failed as they were successfully prosecuted for abusing these exemptions.
However, when they tried the ‘Research and Observation’ exemption, that one did work, as no prosecutions have progressed when this exemption has been used as a defence. As there do not seem to be any genuine researchers relying on this exemption, it should be entirely removed from the Act.
5. An extension of the available time to charge suspects with breaching the Act
Under the current law, a defendant must be charged within six months of committing an offence. In practice, this means that often police forces simply do not have the resources to secure a charge within in that time and, consequently, suspected illegal hunting can go unpunished.
6. Application of ‘vicarious liability’ to cover the employers and landowners of those in breach of the Act
In illegal hunting cases, it is often the ‘terrier men’ or the huntsman – paid employees or contractors of the hunt – who are charged and subsequently prosecuted. However, responsibility should also lie with those who run the hunt (such as the hunt masters), and those who own the land where hunting took place and authorised the hunt to use it. The application of a ‘Vicarious liability’ clause would mean that those who instigate or enable the illegal hunt to take place can also be prosecuted.
7. The reversal of burden of proof in “exempt hunting” cases
Reversing the burden of proof for cases where a suspect uses the “exempt hunting” defence would mean that the burden would no longer be on the prosecution but on the defence, meaning hunts would need to prove they indeed followed all the conditions stipulated by the Hunting Act 2004 relevant to the type of exempt hunting they claim they were doing, such as “flushing to guns” or “falconry”. A reversal of the burden of proof for exempt hunting was among recommendations made by Lord Bonomy in his recent review of Scottish hunting legislation.
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