Time for a Crackdown?

Posted: November 22, 2016 in Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

So I’ve been a bit lazy in the current updates department recently, this was largely due to wanting to see how things were panning out before I started to draw any conclusions and I also got a case of the dreaded lurgy so haven’t been out in the field but I should be fighting fit once again fairly soon.

When I read through the updates on a Saturday evening from the sab groups all over the UK there is always a common theme and it got me thinking as to why this is allowed to go on. It’s the typical antics from the hunt supporters and their employees – blocking roads, abuse, threatening behaviour, criminal damage and even violence. They are not isolated incidents and happen every week, without fail.


Attempting to block the road

So lets just change things round for a moment and consider the police response.

If a group of people wished to observe something from a public highway then you would expect them not to act in a way which could be dangerous to other road users or impede those going about their lawful business. Why should the law be different in the countryside from that of the town centres? If this group were being openly aggressive, hurling abuse and actively blocking the road to others then why aren’t the police moving them on or making arrests, there is certainly the legislation in place for them to do so? Imagine a town centre and a group of rowdy individuals gobbing off and looking for trouble, in no time at all there’d be a significant police response. Football clubs have to pay towards the policing of their matches, perhaps hunts should do the same and then maybe they might be inclined to suggest their supporters behave themselves, they do, after all, pay to watch (amazing isn’t it, paying to watch something from a public highway) just like a football supporter.

Then you have these so called “Stewards”. They have no official credibility. Wearing an armband and waving meaningless bits of paper about doesn’t give them special powers whether they have been officially requested by the hunt or not. They have no more power than anyone else. They have to have express written authority from the landowner to even just act on their behalf and that doesn’t include blocking rights of way and assaulting people. Minimum force means virtually no force at all in a trespass situation and as nearly all hunts are hunting illegally any citizen can access that land to stop a criminal act taking place.


These people are always so welcoming

So this begs the question why do the police respond in the way they do?

Now the police forces around the country vary hugely. I believe we’re making good progress on my home patch of Bedfordshire although there’s still significant work to be done but elsewhere it seems the police show little inclination or desire to truly understand what they are dealing with and this is where I believe the problem lies.

Whenever you speak to an officer they will, very early in the conversation say something along the lines of “I’m not allowed an opinion on Hunting, I have to remain impartial”. And this is the root of the problem. The very definition of a police officers is a person who is there to uphold the law and bring to justice those who defy it. They would appear to be overly concerned that applying very basic laws to the hunting side regarding the behaviour of their support and followers would be construed as being biased in favour of those who oppose hunting and so let them act in a way which simply wouldn’t be tolerated in any other situation. Perhaps they’ve had instructions from further up the chain of command? Perhaps they simply aren’t able to properly assess and deal with the situation or maybe there is some sort of institutionalised prejudice against sabs and monitors?

Remember, we’re not talking about the prosecution of the hunt here. Someone once told me that you have to think of the police as a business and their product is prosecutions. Now we know getting a prosecution for illegal hunting is very hard indeed and this I believe, is why the police show little interest, there’s a lot of effort involved with little chance of success however prosecuting those involved with threatening and violent behaviour should be relatively straightforward. There is literally hours and hours of footage every week showing criminal behaviour and this brings me once again to the use of the Section 35 Dispersal Order. Full details of this can be found here (Section 35) but the important part to note reads thus:

Two conditions need to be met for a direction to be given:

the officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person in the locality has contributed or is likely to contribute to –

(a) members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or

(b) the occurrence in the locality of crime or disorder.

The officer considers that giving a direction to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.

Now as far as I’m concerned pretty much all those criteria are fulfilled when considering the Stewards or supporters. Remove these people from the equation and what you’re left with is those who can behave themselves and those who will monitor a hunt until they believe they are hunting illegally in which case they are fully entitles to intervene.

Removing the violent element would also make policing of these incidents a whole lot easier. Less resources would need to be deployed and costs kept to a minimum. As far as I can see it’s an absolute no-brainer. So I think it really is about time the police had a crack down on this. It’s about being unbiased, it’s about applying the law, to a group of people who think they are above it and can act in a manner which not only contravenes the law but also common decency.


Fairly certain this would be considered a danger to other road users

  1. cleve sherriff says:

    as far as I am aware that under the road traffic act: should any person place anything on the highway that is likely to cause a hazard to other road users they shall be liable !

  2. Sally says:

    Well said as usual. This is a fair question to ask and I feel the police should respond. Thank you for all you do.

  3. Deb says:

    Absolutely spot on. I think you are all fabulous & thanks for all you do

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