You’ll hear the same phrase from the police over and over again when questioned over the hunting issue; “We aim to remain impartial with regards to the hunting and recognise the right to demonstrate peacefully”, or pretty much words to that effect.

Now the problem with that is it’s based purely on the assumption that both sides are acting in a lawful manner. You have to hand it to the so-called Countryside Alliance, they’ve done a fine job in convincing the powers that be that trail hunting is a legal and legitimate pass time. Having said that if the anti-hunt side had the same money and influence within the establishment I’ve no doubt the situation would be a little less one sided.

Now I’m fairly certain that the truth of the matter has been well and truly demonstrated by the huge number of well documented hunting kills. Cheshire has seen a large number recently and it has got to the point where the Police and Crime Commissioner has publicly come out to counter statements by Cheshire’s Acting Chief Constable (see here) regarding what appears on social media and has indeed gone further in holding a public meeting to put more scrutiny on hunting within the county (see here).

Only last Saturday (16/02/19) our group was present when the Oakley Hunt killed a young vixen in front of sabs who were doing their very best to save her. It was tough on the new sabs but they acted in a very professional manner in the face of some hugely unpleasant provocation and are a credit to our group. Huntsman Jack Harris (better known as Calamity Jack due his tendency to lose the hounds) knew exactly what was going on. He knew they were on a fox and yet sat there denying all knowledge of any wrong doing. He even had the temerity to deny his hounds had killed anything. A short time later he rang the police and claimed an accident had happened just to cover his own arse.

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The young vixen killed by the Oakley Hunt in the arms of a young sab

And this is where the problem lies.

As it stand the hunts can go out and kill with impunity because all they have to do is – exactly NOTHING, and then claim it was an accident. The level of burden of proof to get a conviction within the Hunting Act is set way too high. There needs to be undeniable evidence of intent by the hunt staff to kill the fox. That means encouraging the hounds with voice or horn while knowing they are hunting live quarry.

So this brings me rounds to my point with regards to impartiality.

This isn’t about a matter of opinion or even a difference in ethical points of view. This is about what is legal and what isn’t. The police are perfectly within their rights to arrest someone who they may find acting suspiciously in the middle of the night with certain tools about their person, the term is “going equipped”. It’s about time that the police understood that going into a field with 12 couple or more (that’s 24 to normal people) trained fox killers and putting them into areas which are likely to contain foxes is only going to have one outcome and you don’t have to be Hercule Poiro to figure that out. Going equipped to kill foxes (or hares for the Beaglers).

If any hunt can’t provide concrete evidence of a trail being laid (and that’s not just some moron buggering around in the nearest field with a mucky rag for 10 minutes) with a map to go with it then they should be forced back to kennels. Any deviation from the map supplied should also be constituted as unlawful along with going into or near likely fox holding areas.

Of course this is all fantasy land, hardly any hunts even bother to pay even minor lip service to the law and they have no intention on changing, they are hunting in a most brazen manner. The Oakley certainly do, we’ve been sabbing them for the last 6 years and I’ve yet to see them lay any sort of trail. If they weren’t such a crappy hunt they’d kill a lot more foxes.

It’s time the police dropped the whole impartiality line. They must know the hunts are breaking the law so quoting that only makes them look at best, incompetent or at worst, horribly biased.

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Additional: The kill at the Oakley was registered as a crime by Bedfordshire Police who by-and-large acted in a professional manner, the body was taken as evidence and scenes of crimes officers noted it had died from multiple dog bites. We don’t expect any further action for the reasons I’ve describe above but the file on the Oakley is certainly building and their time will come.

Here’s a question for you, How many people do you see riding on the quad bike in the picture below?

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Here’s another question. Do you think the officer in the police car would have a good enough view to count the number of people on the quad?

Well apparently after a member of the public complained about the lack of action from the officers at the scene and they received this response from Thames Valley Police. Note in particular the highlighted bit in yellow.

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Apparently inspector James Davies is unable to see there are 4 people on the quad. Here’s an enlarged version just in case you’re in any doubt. They could have of course asked for the video to be supplied for further evidence of wrong doing if they had any doubts.

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It’s also clear from point 2 of the response that the police are choosing which crimes to police and which to ignore. If there’s a hunt going on all road traffic offences appear to become null and void – good to know that, I’ll pass it on to all sab drivers and let them know they can drive where they like and how they like, and yet why is it sab vehicles always get stopped for checks every time there’s a hunt in progress. Hmmm . . .

These are the details of the quad bike:

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Now the police may well get a different MOT response but I’m still fairly sure that quad isn’t designed for 4 people. Thames Valley Police are there to uphold the law for the benefit of the general public, not for the benefit of a small minority who like to hunt sentient mammals for fun and to be honest had I received that response I’d be pretty insulted.

Fell free to complain.

So I was kind of hoping to be reporting on the outcome of the Thurlow case as it was scheduled to be heard at Ipswich Magistrates Court last week (28th Jan). We had all arrived at the court as requested and were having our preliminary discussion with the prosecution barrister when he was called away. After waiting for some time he returned with some slightly irritating news – the case was to be delayed.

Of course we all feared some Countryside Alliance skulduggery was afoot but it actually transpired the judge was sick and couldn’t hear the case. Once again a district judge was due to hear the case and not just a magistrate so finding another judge at short notice was simply not possible. Of course it was somewhat annoying to get all suited and booted and then drive 2 hours to Ipswich for no reason but on the upside we all went and had a vegan brunch in a local hostelry and had a more relaxed drive home avoiding the rush hour.

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The fox killed by the Thurlow hunt on Boxing Day 2017

The case itself has now been penciled in for the 11th March so fingers crossed we get the go ahead for that and the accused can hopefully receive some justice. In case you don’t remember this is in relation to a fox which was killed on Boxing Day 2017. Chris Amatt (the Huntsman) and Archie Clifton-Brown (Whipper In) are both facing charges of Common Assault, Assault by Beating and contravention of Section 1 of the Hunting Act.

This may seem like a long time in getting to court but the British legal system moves at a glacial pace at best, this case will have to be delayed several time more to get anywhere near that of the Fitzwilliam, which is still staggering on over 3 years after the original offence. In the mean time the accused get to sweat for a little longer.

Just as a source of amusement and to put into context the sort of people we deal with on regular intervals, Google Archie Clifton-Brown and watch the Vimeo video which pops up in the results . You couldn’t make it up!

So after the revelations of the Kimblewick throwing a fox in front of the hounds story I covered last week and our little visit to them over the weekend it was interesting to note the amount of public feeling arising from this issue.

Our Facebook page receives lots of messages from the general public and those regarding the Kimblewick are probably more common than most. This hunt, like most, certainly seem to believe they are above not only the law but are happy to bully and harass the public and make it known they will do whatever they want regardless of public feeling. It was quite interesting to note that they are certainly not getting everything their own way and local people are starting to speak up against them.

We always advise people to call the police on 101 and report illegal hunting if they believe it to be taking place and we received several reports of the hunt out again yesterday (14/01/19 – don’t these people have proper jobs?) and they were in fact reporting this to the police.

Thames Valley Police (Aylesbury Vale) then felt it necessary to publish a post on their own social media page with some information. It’s quite long but worth reading so here’s a screen shot for you:

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What I’m going to do is break down the statement and highlight what they’ve got right and indeed wrong.

The first paragraph is all pretty standard stuff and I doubt there will be any real questions asked. What I will say is I’ve dealt with TVP several times in the past and they haven’t exactly left me feeling confident in their understanding of the law or indeed their willingness to uphold it in terms of wildlife legislation. While probably not the same officer a Wildlife Crime Officer from TVP did think it was legal to dig out and kill a fox from a badger sett a couple of seasons ago, something I witnessed while undercover monitoring of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Hunt.

Point 1 – No argument here although the description of Trail Hunting seems to accept this is a “sport”. For a sport there has to be at least 2 sides which compete against each other. Not sure this really applies.

Point 2 – I love this one “…ask to speak to someone in charge”. Let’s face it if the hunt are chasing a fox they’re hardly likely to stop for you and answer your questions, in fact all the complaints we have is about the threatening nature of the hunt and their arrogance in dealing with the public. They have no qualms about hunting through private land and will generally ride roughshod over all and sundry. This is a totally unrealistic statement and quite frankly laughable.

Apparently the hunt will have also told the police they are out (well isn’t that nice) just so the police can probably ignore all the calls from the public and pretend they haven’t seen all those illegally ridden quad bikes.

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TVP ignoring the illegal quad on the road.

TVP have also stated they have some sort of working relationship with the Master of Hounds (how very cosy) who will insure there’s no unlawful “execution” of foxes. Execution? What the hell this? Execution is a term used for punishment. This is very odd wording to say the least. And is there a lawful execution of foxes and how the hell do we decide that?

Point 3 – The difference between Drag and Trail Hunting. So they’ve got this mostly right but what they fail to do here (and they’re still calling it a hound sport) is highlight the fact that trail hunting is a new activity designed to simulate real fox hunting and it’s a fox scent that they use, although don’t ask where they get that from. We all know it’s just an alibi for real hunting but I’m not going to go over all that again.

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The Kimblewick trail layer. A dry duster flopping about in the air and behind the hounds isn’t really going to work now is it.

Point 4 – Yes, live species do naturally live out in the open (no shit Sherlock) and the hounds are almost certainly going to pick up the scent of a fox if you put them in an area they are likely to inhabit. The fact is the hunters want this and they are sure hell not going to stop the hounds once they get on to one. But this is the big one:

“The accidental killing of a fox is not illegal”.

Well there you go then boys and girls, off you pop and kill as many foxes as you like. As long as you make it look like an “accident” you’re all good. We’ve got your backs. It’s nice they also perpetuate the tradition argument to make it sound all nice and socially acceptable. Tradition never was, and never will be, an excuse for cruelty and law breaking.

TVP’s explanation of the hounds on a scent also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s almost amusing to assume the public will believe the hounds are in distress. Anyone who’s witnessed hounds on full cry will see the very singular and focused nature of the hounds and their desire to catch their quarry. It can be quite a bone chilling sound.

Their understanding of the use of a horn is once again completely inaccurate. Only one person uses a horn during a hunt, and that’s the huntsman. The purpose of the horn is a method of communication between the huntsman and the hounds. There are several calls the huntsman can make with the most important being to hunt on or to stop. You’ll often hear the former when they are in cry (called doubling) but very rarely the latter. And again this is nothing to do with just “tradition”, what total nonsense.

Fox hunting does indeed remain a controversial subject, not just between hunters and animal rights advocates but the wider general public, mainly because they’re fed up with the lack of policing and the continued abuse of our wildlife carried out by a minority group who it would appear are above the law. And let’s just remind TVP this is the same hunt which was filmed throwing a trapped fox in front of hounds for them to hunt. How is that investigation going by the way?

If TVP want to get in touch you can find me easily enough. I’m happy to educate your officers on the reality of “trail hunting”.

Make your feelings know.

Thames Valley Police (Aylesbury Vale) Facebook Page

TVP Police and Crime Commissioner

TVP Chief Constable.

 

ADDITIONAL

Just look at the different approach TVP have towards hare coursing, the same legislation applies.

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