So, we’re only a few weeks into the main hunting season and it’s all kicking off already. We’re getting the usual hunt violence, illegal killing and inconsistent policing, which will be my focus on this blog.

If you’re a follower you’ll already know we’ve been trying to break down the historical differences between the police and those in wildlife protection and, by-and-large we’ve had some success. Bedfordshire police are acting on violence shown by the hired hunt thugs and starting to understand the reality of hunting within the county. While they may not be able to arrest the hunters themselves due to the poorly written legislation they aren’t interfering with our operations to oppose them.

However the same cannot be said for other forces across the country. A couple of weeks ago we sabbed the Puckeridge Hunt, Tim Bonner’s (CEO so called Countryside Alliance) home hunt (full report here) and the police on the day showed a combination of naivety and ignorance. They were naive in that they should never have accepted a ride on the back of a hunt terrier man’s quad bike because it looks very bad for them and puts into question their impartiality (especially when terrier men have no legitimate role in a trail hunt) and ignorant of the laws that were in question on the day. Claiming they have powers to take your details is of course complete nonsense (and we told them so) and asking us to leave private land is also a civil matter, it’s nothing to do with the police.

I explained the situation to them regarding the difference between criminal (illegal hunting) and civil (trespass) and we were exercising our right as citizens to prevent the criminal offence from taking place by trespassing. I don’t believe Hertfordshire Police were acting in bias of the hunt, the officers that attended were just not equipped with the right knowledge to make a reasonable call and unfortunately made bad snap decisions based on preconceived historical prejudice. I’ll be discussing the matter further with Herts rural WCO in due course.

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Herts Police being lied to (probably).

If you read though the report from other sab groups around the country some areas have what can only be described as truly biased forces. There’s forces are openly acting as a private security service and facilitating illegal hunting by their very actions. Norfolk Police would appear to be one of those forces. Our colleagues at Norfolk & Suffolk Hunt Sabs are fighting a constant battle not only against the hunters but also the local police force. Last weekend Norfolk Police arrested a sab at a meet of the Dunston Harriers for Aggravated Trespass.

The offence is as follows: A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land [in the open air] and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land [in the open air], does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—

(a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,

(b) of obstructing that activity, or

(c) of disrupting that activity.

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Norfolk Police riding on hunt terrier man’s quad bike.

Considering the sabs had earlier made calls to the police of illegal hunting which were completely ignored (they had already illegally killed a Hare and the hounds were covered in that animals blood) their claims could easily be justified and therefore the above offence cannot be considered by the police officers. In spite of this an arrest was made, the sab removed in handcuffs and spent several hours locked up in a cell.

Norfolk Police have also released the following statement:

Police were called to farmland in Roudham at about 12.20pm yesterday, Saturday 18 November, following reports of a confrontation involving two groups.

Officers attended and while at the scene, were advised of allegations that a hare had been killed. Both parties were spoken to and a search was carried out. No evidence was found. Anyone with evidence is asked to contact police on 101.

We are aware of images on social media of our officers on a quad bike. While recognising the concerns, the officers had been searching in fields and got into difficulty due to the muddy terrain. At this point, they were assisted by the landowner using a quad bike which at no point travelled on a public road or highway. 

This statement just stinks quite frankly. Regardless of whether the officers were on a public road or not it still shows a level of collusion with the hunt in question. It would also be a question as to whether the police would be insured to be riding around on such a vehicle in that manner. Also what evidence did they think they were going to find of a hare which had been pulled apart by a pack of hounds? The Dunston Harriers could have made up any old tale and it seems the police would have believed them. Remember in the case of AT the burden falls on the prosecution to prove that the activity being interfered with was legal, and in this case a claim had already been made to the contrary which was insufficiently investigated. (See similar case explained here)

Please contact Norfolk Police to complain.

Facebook: Norfolk Constabulary

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Email the chief constable Simon Bailey.

PCC Lorne Green: opccn@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Another force which appears to be openly biased is Sussex Police. At the opening meet of the Crawley a& Horsham Hunt a saboteur was assaulted by huntsmen using their horses as weapons, a common tactic for hunts. Bearing my this particular hunt have been convicted in the past of illegal hunting its not a massive leap of faith to assume they would continue to do so. In this case the sab was arrested for assault on the hunters and – you’ll like this, criminal damage to the hunters pocket. Take a look at the video.

It’s very clear that the huntsman on the horse was acting aggressively to the sab and the sab was only trying to defend himself. In such instances serious injury and potentially worse can occur if the sab was knocked to the ground and trampled by the horse, he, and those with him had every right to take whatever action was required to keep themselves safe. It speaks volumes that when sabs or monitors make calls to the police very little is done, if anything at all and yet even when the hunters are the perpetrators of the crime the police will act swiftly in coming to their defence. Time for some more complaints.

Facebook: Sussex Police

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Cheif Constable Giles York Email.

PCC Katey Bourne: pcc@sussex-pcc.gov.uk

This level of inconsistent policing simply cannot be allowed to continue. We all know the Hunting Act needs strengthening but in the mean time we need to have a national policing initiative which will allow an even handed approach to all concerned along with better understanding of the laws in place. Forces showing an obvious bias should come under increased scrutiny and those responsible removed from their positions. Bias from various forces in nothing new and no doubt it will continue but with the overwhelming support of the British public we can get things changed so start emailing, commenting and tweeting, if its something the police don’t like it’s bad PR.

Comments
  1. Colin Coleman says:

    shoud sab groups consider renaming to something other than Saboteurs as I feel this gives fuel to the hunts in using that title as a negative name for hunt monitors.

  2. Gary says:

    Very well said could not agree more

  3. David Jobson says:

    Excellent piece.

  4. Simon Watson says:

    Great blog. Read it often. The subject of policing has been an issue for years, but I believe we are on the brink of getting the public aware of the fact there is an institutional bias in favour of hunts in rural policing equivalent to the institutional prejudice against black people in urban policing. That isn’t an exaggerated comparison: pro hunt bias is also widespread, deep-rooted, indisputable and reveals something thoroughly rotten in British policing – unlike no other area (apart from racism).

    Institutional behaviours are serious and often go unoticed because Joe Public himself carries those predjudices. That said, society moves on and hunting is now hugely unpopular. The lag in getting this addressed is largely down to the fact that it’s happening down country lanes out of sight and out of mind.

    At the moment we tend to just have a steady stream of incidents, one after another getting recorded, but not collated in any useful way, and swept into that particular corner of the internet where only those committed to stopping animal abuse gather. (I’m also involved in resisting the arms trade. It’s another small world of specialist knowledge and endless frustrations). Most people I talk to are surprised illegal hunting is taking place and the internet, like the countryside itself, has a complex geography that conceals as much as it reveals.

    I don’t have a simple answer to this problem. Tweeting, writing to your MP, etc, will all have an effect (and I do all that) but it seems to be a very small one and it’s hard to see it getting better any time soon. But I can see the following having an impact:

    1. A national newspaper or television company takes up the whole subject and does a grand expose of police bias. A program like Panorama can change attitudes and behaviour with amazing speed. Eg abuse in care homes. Jimmy Saville etc.

    2. An academic study is presented to establishment. This is good for reaching politicians, because it goes beyond the angry individual with a bee in their bonnet (who they ignore). Universities have weight.

    3. One of the slicker anti-hunt organisations like League Against Cruel Sports could sponser the former and get a national campaign on police bias going. (I’m aware of the friction between HSA and LACS, but things are better with the new head). When their investigators got beat up by hunt supprt it felt like we were in the same boat. LACS are yet to challenge the cops in any meaningful way but that could change if we have a mature conversation.

    Out of 1, 2 or 3 we could expect a public enquiry which, in turn, would probably lead to huge pressue from a woken up public to strengthen the ban and make it effective. Of course I’m not the only armchair genius to come up with a grand plan, but what I’m seeing at the moment is an approach which is so bitty and piecemeal no big picture of police bias is getting formed and communicated to the public.

    Plan B. Presently thousands of people are becoming vegans. Perhaps many are just taking it on as a another food fad, but if animal welfare is at the heart of it we have a possibility of making a vast army of hunt saboteurs. The old class war agenda served us very badly (where are crusties now?) But the new vegan stock are very committed and I feel there’s a big opportunity to raise the numbers and sab hunts off the face of the planet…..IF we stop acting like an in-group, answer emails, welcome people warmly (instead of the frosty reception newcomers often get in the back of the Landy), and match our work in the field with public outreach. A large, energised, animal-focussed sab organisation will generate a ton of publicity and 1, 2, and 3 (above) would probably get bump started.

    Apologies to the length. This stuff keeps me up at night.

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