Road Traffic Act 1988 – Section 27
The Road Traffic Act 1988 is now over thirty years old. Since then, the volume of traffic carried on all of our roads has increased, including our rural roads.
Hunts recklessly allowing their loose uncontrolled hunting hounds on our roads has now become a major concern.
Road Traffic Act 1988 – Section 27
(1) A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence.
(4) An order under this section may provide that subsection (1) above shall apply subject to such limitations or exceptions as may be specified in the order, and (without prejudice to the generality of this subsection) subsection (1) above does not apply to dogs proved –
(a) to be kept for driving or tending sheep or cattle in the course of a trade or business, or
(b) to have been at the material time in use under proper control for sporting purposes.
Designated roads (s27-1)
Material time (s27-4b)
Under proper control (s27-4b)
Sporting purpose (s27-4b)
Definition of a sporting activity : an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
As hunts can no longer legally chase a wild animal with a pack of hounds, so therefore “Trail Hunting” cannot actually be classed as a sport (i.e competing against any particular thing), hounds should now be classed as leisure dogs and not sporting hounds. Therefore, they should not come under any sporting exemptions.
Regardless if hunts are participating in a sporting activity or not, they are still required by law to keep their hounds “under proper control“.
Hunts should no longer be allowed to claim exemption under sporting purposes on any public road
The law states (Road Traffic Act 1988 – Section 27) that dogs must be kept under proper control.
However, a loophole in the Act (section 27:1) only ensures this applies to certain designated roads (Government maintained) i.e motorways, major trunk roads etc.
This law is not applicable to other non-designated (Council maintained) roads, which includes many busy A & B roads.
Police do have various powers at their disposal, to ensure loose hunt hounds are kept under proper control on roads and are not a risk to other road users, as the law requires, although there seems to be a failing by police and legal system to ensure this.
Another loophole exemption (section 27 : 4b) allowing the hunt hounds on our roads, for sporting purposes.
(It is most concerning that 30 years ago the law sees a sporting activity on our busy roads as an exemption and acceptable.)
However, now that the sport of hunting wild animals with hounds has been banned since 2004, hunts can no longer legally participate in the sport of fox, deer and hare hunting; as there is now no such sport, this exemption should no longer apply.
Even under this exemption, hunts are still required to keep their hounds under proper control
(4b) to have been at the material time in use under proper control for sporting purposes.
Hunts still try to use this old exemption to avoid prosecution for failing to keep their hounds under proper control, which is something the police frequently neglect to enforce.
Since the Hunting Act 2004, Hunts have surreptitiously continued with their so called ‘sport’ under the guise of trail hunting, claiming they now hunt within the law and now only follow a pre-laid artificial scent trail.
When they do make a kill, they claim “oops – it was just an accident” endeavouring to avoid prosecution.
However, since the Act came into force, a mass of evidence has proven hunts continue to use trail hunting as a smoke screen for continuance of illegal hunting.
Hounds being allowed to run riot on any road and darting in between traffic, is a failing of law enforcement by Police, CPS, Councils and Courts, to ensure all our roads remain safe without the fear of loose dogs/hounds putting motorists and lives at risk.
For hunts to be prosecuted under the ‘Hunting Act’, there is a requirement that evidence shows that hunts “Intentionally” chased a wild animal.
Let’s, for one moment, humour the hunts and buy into their fake claim of “Trail hunting”.
• Trail hunting is a name made up in 2004 (therefore not traditional.)
• It is also totally different from regular hunting (so cannot come under same regulations.)
• It also does not engage with an opponent (therefore cannot be classed as a sport.)
• Hunting hounds no longer legally provide a “pest control” service (so cannot be classed as working dogs.)
• Trail hunting has no official governing body or written rules.
Hounds have also sadly been killed whilst not being managed properly, yet under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, they should be” protected from pain, suffering, injury or disease”.
HUNTING HOUNDS RUNNING RIOT
Below is a small sample of photographic evidence of hunts out of control and not following pre-laid artificial trails.
Hounds running riot on roads
Hounds running riot on railway lines
Hunts trespassing and hounds running riot through private property
If hunt hounds really were following a pre-laid artificial trail, as hunts claim, and not chasing foxes, then why are they chasing foxes and trespassing on private property ?
Uncontrolled hunt hounds are a pest
Uncontrolled hunt hounds are a pest. This reckless behaviour by hunts, failing to control their hounds, frequently results in hounds rampaging through people’s gardens, attacking pets, fouling, becoming a public menace and health hazard.
Please Note : The law on dog fouling varies with different councils and the area it applies too. This article and sample evidence is used as an example of what hunting hounds are capable of, if not controlled or restricted.
Hunt hounds often foul in public places and on roads without it being picked up. This has become a major concern and health hazard especially with some hounds being carriers of bovine T.B and other diseases.
Hounds travel across the countryside from farm to farm resulting in a high biosecurity risk of the spread of T.B. They then go on to foul in public places.
Examples of diseases that can be spread from hunting hounds to humans include Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis, which can lead to serious problems for pregnant women, and Campylobacteriosis, a common cause of diarrhoea, fever and stomach pain, which can be carried by dogs without them showing any signs.
Link : Hounds spreading disease
Hound exercise (off lead) on public roads
Hunts reguarly take their packs of hounds out (off the lead) on roads for exercise with only a couple of people on bikes or horses trying to control them.
If a regular member of the public decided to exercise a pack of dogs (that are trained to chase and kill), off the lead, all over a public road, fouling without being picked up, running riot through peoples gardens, darting in front of traffic, where the handler is physically incapable of controlling a large pack of dogs while on a bike or horse, there would be outrage and they would be fined.
So why are hunts allowed to get away with doing this? Why are councils and police not preventing this?
Hunts have access to acres of land to exercise their hounds safely. There is absolutely no reason for them to be exercising their pack of hounds (off lead) on a public road.
Police turning a blind eye ?
Police have been accused of turning a blind eye and failing to prevent, fully investigate or sufficiently uphold the law regarding illegal hunting and all its associated crimes, especially when it involves keeping our roads safe and preventing loose out of control hounds potentially causing accidents.
Where the majority will agree the law does need amending and strengthening to ensure it can be better policed, this shouldn’t stop the police preventing accidents and the many hunt related illegal incidents.
When packs of out of control hounds are allowed to run riot on roads putting the public at risk, this confirms police enforcement and prevention has failed.
The failings and lack of directive by police (NPCC) to ensure hunts do not break the law or put the public in danger with their reckless behaviour, is now a major concern.
This obsession police have of just policing hunts for public disorder instead of dealing with the root cause “Illegal Hunting” only leads to lack of public trust and faith in our legal and law enforcement system.
Police have become notorious for turning a blind eye, even when illegal hunt related acts and potentially hazard situations are happening in front of their own eyes.
Quote example 1 : One group monitoring hunts reported that when they tried to make an on scene police office aware of the hunt committing a crime, he replied “So what”.
Quote example 2 : Another group monitoring illegal hunting reported a police officer stating “We are only here for public disorder”.
Are the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council) who set directive, now only interested in protecting the Tory parties hunt supporting sponsors?. Under this current government, have they lost the ability to remain impartial?.
This issue is very contentious considering the vast increase in traffic and use of delivery vans in recent years. The speed limit on some of these roads is currently 60mph, which is far too dangerous for packs of dogs to be loose and not under proper control, which, on the basis of clear photographic evidence and police reported incidents, they are clearly not under control.
According to the DfT Road Safety Statement 2019, Rural Roads
4.1 These roads carry 44% of all traffic but where 33% of all casualties and 60% fatalities occur.
4.2 One of the key problems is the inherent danger presented by their often twisting and unpredictable configuration.
This means these roads can be a high-risk environment and are absolutely not the place for any dogs to be uncontrolled and running loose. These roads are full of dangers; concealed driveways, overgrown vegetation, blind spots and other hazards. The traffic on these roads has escalated but are used by pedestrians, cyclists and other leisure riders. The hunt not only have large numbers of dogs and horses, but also bring an entourage of hunt support vehicles and followers, further obstructing and hindering other road users.
The law needs to be amended to include that all dogs/hounds have to be kept under proper control on all public roads. (no exemptions for hunts.)
Taking all of this into account, it would seem necessary, to reduce the undeniable risks and hazards on these roads, to;
Essential amendments needed to the Road Traffic Act 1988
(27.1) A person who causes or permits a dog to be on designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence.
* Amendment 27.1: Remove the wording “designated road” and replace with “any public road“.
Note: Prohibit all unleashed dogs on ALL public roads, (designated or non-designated). The wording designated provides a loophole for hounds to run unrestricted and unleased on a large percentage of busy non-designated roads.
(27.4) Exemptions: An order under this section may provide that subsection (1) above shall apply subject to such limitations or exceptions as may be specified in the order, and (without prejudice to the generality of this subsection) subsection (1) above does not apply to dogs proved-
Other essential amendments needed to the Hunting with dogs Act 2004 in relation to the Road Traffic Act 1988
If the government do not make these essential changes to the Road Traffic Act, and Hunting Act 2004 then it will be on their heads when an inevitable serious and/or fatality occurs on their watch. Their position is untenable.
We call on our Government
DISCLAIMER : Please Note : This awareness article and sample evidence, is used as an example to show how loose, uncontrolled hunt hounds can cause chaos on roads, private property, public areas and how the ‘Road Traffic Act 1988’ needs amending to prevent unrestricted loose hounds becoming a danger and pest to motorists and the public.
Various other legislation may also apply and we advise readers to make themselves fully aware of any other related laws.
This article is not a full comprehensive guide of the law on each topic mentioned.
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