The Cost of Protecting the Illegal Hunts – Part 2

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Comment
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You may remember my blog entry from a few weeks ago regarding a Freedom of Information Request to West Mercia Police after they deployed significant resources to protect an illegal Mink Hunt (see here). I also suggested it may be a good idea to contact West Mercia and get them to explain themselves and that’s exactly what some of you did, so thanks to those who took the time and effort there. One particular query and response was forwarded to MorethanjustBadgers and I’d like to address the explanation given by West Mercia Police.

First of all the question was asked:

Why, may I ask are you spending all this money protecting people who are committing a crime? If you actually advised those hunting illegally that they would be arrested and charged perhaps they would then stop of their own accord. Thus those people who try to stop the illegal activity would not need to do so and your police force would not have to waste taxpayers time and money assisting criminals.

This is not the first time your police force has spent taxpayer’s money on enabling illegal hunting to continue. I fail to understand why your force allows these people to keep carrying out illegal acts and protects them whilst they are doing so.

And the Response:

As per our initial response, we must again re-alliterate that no police resources were pre-assigned to this hunting event, resources were only allocated in response to calls received from concerned members of the public (1). Whenever a call is received from a member of the public asking for police assistance, a dynamic risk assessment is applied and a decision made as to whether to send resources at all and if so, how many and of what type. Often, the decision maker around that allocation has to act on a partial picture of events on the ground based on incomplete and sometimes conflicting information (2).

Once resources arrived at the scene, a further assessment will take place as to what has happened, whether any offences have taken place and if there is a need for continuing police or partner agency involvement. Needless to say the more complex and involved the incident, and therefore require a longer police presence to complete a full assessment. The costs released in the freedom of information act request represent the time incurred by those units deployed to this incident, through until such time as they were released to other duties (3).

In incidents of this nature, the police are often faced by conflicting version of events from those present. They have to act based on what can be assessed at the time, and in the area of public protest, strike a proportionate balance between ensuring those who wish to go about their lawful activities may do so, while also ensuring those who wish to legally protest may also do so (4).

The police service does not enable illegal activity, nor protect those who engage in such activity. Where there is evidence of offences having been committed, we will conduct a proportionate investigation, but such allegations must be evidence based (5).

Let’s address these in order.

(1) As noted in my previous blog entry the police were not called by a concerned “member of the public” but in fact they were called by the hunt themselves. Although they could be perceived as members of the public they clearly have a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings and will have no doubt painted a somewhat distorted picture of what was really going on.

(2) So the police openly admit they had little idea of what was going on and yet decided in very quick fashion to deploy multiple units as well as closing down a section of the town centre causing significant disruption to the local community and the justifying the cost of putting the helicopter on the scene. I would suggest whoever carried out their dynamic risk assessment may have overreacted.

(3) Once they had these multiple units in place it seems they were still unable to deduce who the criminals really were (threats of violence using a knife where made against a sab at the scene and captured on video). Perhaps it was a quiet day in that part of the country and very little crime taking place elsewhere as 10 vehicles and a helicopter would certainly seem to be overkill, perhaps they all fancied some action, not that there was any, we’re a non-violent direct action group although will defend ourselves if required.

(4) Well of course there was conflicting reports however there is one singular event which negates the rest of this part of the statement. We weren’t protesting and the hunt weren’t going about their lawful business. We were there to stop illegal hunting as we have a right to do and the hunt was hunting illegally. The hunter who called the police openly admitted to hunting in contravention of the Hunting Act. Police calls are routinely recorded so they could have referred back to the conversation and yet chose to ignore this information. We often have the police claim that the hunting act is a matter of personal choice, a conflict of morality and tradition which they won’t get involved with but let’s make things clear here. The Hunting Act 2004 is a fully endorsed piece of legislation supported by over 80% of the population and they are required to enforce that legislation as required by the law of the land. Now I’m not suggesting there was enough evidence in this instance to proceed with a prosecution however spending that amount of tax payer’s money on the protection of the hunt is certainly a kick in the teeth for anyone with a shred of decency and a concern for animal welfare.

(5) Well, pardon me if I’m wrong but you just did. An admittance of guilt is evidence of sorts and while the other evidence was largely circumstantial it was pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain what was going on. This statement just suggests that unless you have damming evidence of killing, undeniable proof of unlawful activity we’re really not interested, although we’re interested enough to deploy a helicopter, 10 cars and spend a shed load of cash. Surely a more proportionate response would have been a little less extreme and one sided. The police are without doubt severely blinkered on this issue.

It’s a funny old world we live in. Except I’m not laughing.

Thanks to the reader who supplied me with all the information, it is appreciated.

Comments
  1. Bob says:

    If a known burglar was caught in a residential area at 3am with a torch,gloves and screwdrivers he would be arrested for going equipped….. A hunter found out in the countryside with a pack of dogs should be subject to the same treatment.

    • This is where the current law falls down. To get a conviction is very hard indeed. You need to see the quarry, the hounds and the huntsman encouraging the hounds practically all in the same shot. The law needs to be changed for the better. Hunting should be banished to history where it belongs.

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