So another hunting season is over.

It’s always good to look back and evaluate what’s gone on and see how you can learn to make ourselves more effective in future operations. We’ve tried a new direction this year and it’s certainly been an interesting experience but whether it turns out to be a success or not still remains to be seen.

Traditionally there has been a lot of suspicion and distrust between activist groups and the police and not without good reason. However we’ve made a concerted effort to break down these barriers and this pretty much started after my conversation with the Chief Inspector after I published this story (see here). It still seems a little odd to me that 6 months down the line we’ve had no contact with the officer that was the subject of that story in her position of Wildlife Crime Officer. Whether she still holds that position or not I don’t know but I can only assume she does. From then on we did however have a reasonable flow of information coming from the police. We were assigned a liaison officer with whom I met and discussed the way forward and we have continued to keep a regular dialogue. For their part the police seemed to be improving and took illegal hunting more seriously as well as the threat to our safety from the moronic half wits who act as the hunts personal security force. With our help the police were able to identify that the hunt was clearly hunting illegally and while not able to prosecute they didn’t impede us while we operated.

The problems arose with consistency of officers and the nature of the way our operations work.

As a group we have our own intelligence network and rely on informants within the hunting community passing on meet information or simply local people who have had enough of hunt riding roughshod over them. I’m fairly sure the police will understand this and we would inform our liaison as soon as we knew we would be operating in the county. This would often be the day of the hunt however apparently this doesn’t give the police time to act in any meaningful manner. This proved to be the case on the 4th of March when we were assaulted and had cameras stolen in a private woodland behind the Oakley Hunt kennels. The perpetrators claims we were trespassing and had the right to remove us from the land when the truth of the matter was the complete opposite. One particularly obnoxious couple even took their toddler to the confrontation, something any normal parent would clearly wish to avoid. We’ve been in regular contact with the owners of the wood and needless to say they are not happy with what occurred and have made repeated complaints against the hunt and to the police.

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Police vehicle parked in the Oakley Hunt kennels

The fact the hunt denied all knowledge of the people involved speaks volumes about the obvious lies they are prepared to tell to cover their own arses. The vehicles owned by the people responsible were parked in the hunt kennels! The response of the police on the day was appalling to say the least. The officers were utterly uninterested in hearing our complaints and sided instantly with those who had committed the crime even though they didn’t know the full story. We will be having a meeting next month with the Inspector in charge of that part of policing for the county and shall make our feelings known. Slightly concerning was the lack of information being passed between the officers themselves. I spoke to our liaison some time after the incident expecting her to be aware of it and yet it was all news to her. Surely if an incident took place involving us the first person to be informed would be our liaison officer? Clearly there is work to be done here and as it stands we’ve withdrawn all contact until our meeting but for the time being we’ll continue down this path for as long as it takes to get these one sided attitudes changed.

Of course not all forces as the same. We’ve had a fair amount of contact with Cambridgeshire rural units and they’ve done pretty well by bringing the Fitzwilliam Hunt to court (26th/27th April), and at the very least being impartial and investigating illegal hunting when required. Leicestershire have been awful in the past but now have a number of officers trained in matters relating to hunting (Well done to Northants Hunt Sabs who had a big hand in this) but Northants Police still have a way to go although having said that it was nice to know that some of the main protagonists among the thugs have recently been arrested by the Northants force, some for the second time and after searches of their houses alleged stolen property seized. We have submitted plenty of video evidence against them so fingers crossed that justice will be served. I do know that forces further afield still turn a complete blind eye to illegal hunting and still actively persecute the sabs and monitors in the fields attempting to stop these crimes, perhaps this is due to the story I published here or senior officers are hunters themselves?

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One of the many we saved, this time from the Fitzwilliam.

From a sabbing point of view the season has been a bit up and down although we can comfortably say we’ve made a big difference. Like everything in life we have good and bad days but even on the bad days we’ve saved lives and that’s what really counts. Our attentions have reduced the Oakley to a pathetic shambles, more often that not with only a handful of riders and a huntsman who can’t control the hounds. We’ll be surprised if huntsman Calamity Jack still has a job next year. What’s also been clear is their lack of hunt country. Land owners have clearly been pulling out from giving them permission to hunt on their land, there can be no other reason for the hunt to be so restricted and using the same areas several times a season and now that there are hunt hounds implicated in the spread of bTB things are only going to get worse for them.

We’ve had some good PR in the press both local and national and this of course has lead to more public support and people inquiring about getting involved. We’ll be running a training day over the summer for these potential new sabs, we’ll be fund raising and doing some outreach with a stall in a local Lush this May and a vegan fair later in the summer.

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One of our own escorting the shambolic Oakley.

I think the biggest thing we have learnt is more about ourselves. No matter what abuse we face, be it physical or verbal we only come back stronger, no matter how difficult it may be to work with the authorities it only makes us more determined. The general public are overwhelmingly on our side and that’s a powerful weapon to wield in conjunction with an unshakeable spirit to stand up and do the right thing. The Countryside Alliance may bang on every year about record crowds at hunts but the facts are somewhat different. There can be only one final outcome, it’s just a matter of time.

Comments
  1. Elaine Tavner says:

    Huge respect and thanks to yourself and all the other Sabs….I so admire your bravery and fortitude. I meet Sabs out in the dark during the (presumably annual) Badger Cull here in West Somerset and they are our heroes! The foxhunting season may be over but the stag hunt here in the Quantocks goes on till the end of the month and restarts in August so there is a respite of a few months. I live in one of the hotpots where they seem to end up  and live in a thatched cottage right in the middle of the village  so I have to be careful..The LACS guys are out filming most hunt days but seem to get minimal support from the top….and the National Trust is a problem as they tacitly allow the Hunt on their land. It grieves me to know that and sometimes to witness stags and also pregnant hinds being pursued by the horse lot and loads of quad bikes and ghouls in 4x4s for hours on end ( they start around 11 and go on till about 4 or 5) until they’re exhausted and are cornered and despatched…And this can be twice a week…. The village is largely anti- hunt mercifully..but I just feel so powerless…Anyway sorry to rant and we’ll done again for your courageous work with the Foxhunt…. Elaine Tavner, Holford, Somerset

    Sent from Samsung tablet

  2. Sally says:

    Thank you for the tremendous work you are doing. You are certainly making a difference and as you say am sure it is only a matter of time now.

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