Posts Tagged ‘Bedfordshire police’

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.

I’ve had this blog post written for some time but due to an ongoing legal case I’ve held back it’s publication. That case has now been concluded (successfully) so it’s time for this to be in the public domain and may go some way to explain a few things when it comes to the policing of hunts.

I have long suspected that there was a high ranking police officer within our local hunt – The Oakley. In the past their supporters would often brag about it and claim it was down to this person that no action was ever taken against the hunt. You may remember I’ve blogged about this several times in the past and thought I was getting closer to revealing who this was. Each time my lines of inquiry came up short, sometimes I was well wide of the mark but that was largely due to information I was supplied which turned out to be inaccurate. (See here & here.) My suspicions initially arose when multiple police units would attend the hunt as well as air support which would stay on scene for a significant amount of time and at significant expense to the tax payer so it was easy to assume that only someone with some serious clout could authorise these kind of resources to be deployed and potentially leave other parts of the county dangerously low in policing.

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A incident from February 2015 during a visit to the Oakley Hunt. A helicopter was also present on the day. A fox was actually chased between these police cars.

I had never really given up trying to identify the person behind this, although due to one thing and another it had be pushed to the back burner and we seemed to be making progress in our dealings with Bedfordshire Police.

A Breakthrough

The Oakley’s opening meet of the season is always traditionally held at a venue called the Dower House in Melchbourne, Bedfordshire. The location is in the same village as the Oakley Kennels and in the heart of their country and support. This location has recently opened its doors as a business for hosting weddings. Their website is here.

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Quite a posh looking venue.

Now I seem to remember someone mentioning the owner as being a “Jason” and as this was now a registered business I popped over to companies house and did a search to see who indeed owned the business. Sure enough a Jason Gordon was listed as a Director, along with a female who I assumed was his wife, Alexandra Gordon.

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Screen shot from Companies House listing.

Now the logical next step was to do a quick Google search for Jason Gordon to see what popped up. Needless to say I think I’d found my man.

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Detective Chief Inspector Jason Gordon

So things were getting interesting now. We have a very senior police officer (Detective Chief Inspector) with connections to a hunt. Was he still a serving officer? A search for a Linked In profile produced this:

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It would seem he left the police around March 2015 and then took up the role of an Inspector with the HMIC. For those that don’t know the HMIC is the independent body which;

“Independently assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces and fire & rescue services – in the public interest.”

So in essence he works for the service that polices the police and was definitely an acting officer when the incidents of the multiple attending units took place. His role at that time was head of the Serious Crime Office for the tri-force area, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. This guy had some serious clout and ironically also worked for the professional standards department!

Now bells were ringing loudly in my head, this guy looked very familiar and I recollected a couple of incidents from the past where we were treated exceptionally badly by the police present on the day. He was present at at least one of these but referred to himself ‘Jim’. Jason Gordon was known to his friends as Jim. So not only was Jim hosting the hunt as his house but it would seem he was a regular rider and someone of some influence not only with the police but also within the hunt. Further investigation revealed he was also listed as a master of the Oakley, from 1996-98 and again between 2004-06 which was incidentally the transition period when the ban on hunting with hounds came in.

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Jim Gordon at the Oakley Kennels last March.

If you look at the photo above you’ll notice the police vehicle in the background parked in the Oakley kennels. Had Jim been speaking to the officers present and using his previous position to influence they way they behaved? A couple of seasons ago a previous Master of the Oakley, Guy Napier was less an than impressed with the violent behaviour of the thugs that followed the Oakley and did their dirty work. This included assaulting monitors/sabs, theft of their equipment and preventing them from accessing public rights of way. However Mr Napier was clear he didn’t want the hunt to be associated with these people and in his defence they were instructed not to attend further Oakley meets. Unfortunately Mr Napier left the Oakley the following season and now the thugs have been welcomed back even though some now have multiple convictions for assault.

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Oakley Opening meet November 2017

I think it would be safe to assume that Mr Gordon (given his connections) would be well aware of the violent record of these people and willingly accepts them and their behaviour provided they are of service to the hunt. Here you can see Jim (with a female) once again riding with the Oakley. In front of him on the left hand image is Kelvin Pestel, hunt supporter and well known thug who is often present and likes to target female sabs in particular. Despite any protestations to the contrary, Mr Gordon is no doubt linked to them and accepts their thuggish actions.

So the implications seem fairly clear. Have we had a previously high ranking police officer and member of professional standards department bending the rules to suit his dirty little hobby and also wasting large sums of public money at the same time? Was he still using this influence to his advantage with local policing and was he advising the hunt on the best way to carry on hunting while remaining free from prosecution? The Oakley openly hunt and make no pretense of laying a trail or using any other exemptions. The image below was taken during one of their hunts last season, a day when Jim was once again riding with the hunt.

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Fox escapes the Oakley hounds – saved from death by sabs

We have built a good working relationship recently with Bedfordshire police with meetings and open discussions regarding hunting and the policing of, and I don’t believe any of the officers we met with were aware of this situation. If they were they certainly didn’t make it known to me. To say there was (and maybe still is) a conflict of interest here is an understatement and while people like Jason “Jim” Gordon are riding with hunts its easy to see why so little action against them takes place.

Although the HMIC is an independent body you may with to write to them and ask a few questions. They can be contacted here (Link). Should this man be part of an organisation whose role is described below? I don’t think so.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) independently assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces and fire & rescue services – in the public interest.

In preparing our reports, we ask the questions that citizens would ask, and publish the answers in accessible form, using our expertise to interpret the evidence and make recommendations for improvement.

We provide authoritative information to allow the public to compare the performance of their police force – and, in future, their fire & rescue service – against others. Our evidence is used to drive improvements in the services they provide to the public.”

Help keep us active by donating here: https://ko-fi.com/bedsbuckshuntsabs

 

So, after my publishing previous post I had some very nice comments on here and social media with encouragement to continue writing and I thank everyone for the kind words. I’ve decided to continue at least for another season and see what happens then. There may not be the weekly updates which I tried to publish previously but if there’s a subject which I feel needs a wider audience or promoting then I’ll put something out.

Moving on from there we are getting ever closer to the vote on Trail Hunting on National Trust land at their AGM on the 21st October. I’ve covered this previously (see here) and the National Dis-Trust are keeping up the pressure and encouraging members to use their vote appropriately. Even though I’ve said this before the importance of this vote cannot be understated and I urge all NT members to vote with their conscience and ban trail hunting on NT land for good. This will of course have serious ramifications for some of the hunts in question, with no land to use some of these hunts will cease to exist. Of course this is great news not just for the hunted wildlife but for the residents of these areas who suffer the bullying and intimidation from the hunts and their supporters.

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In our own neck of the woods we continue to work with our local police in an effort to break down the historical barriers between monitors/sabs and the law enforcement  authorities. Obviously things aren’t going to change overnight but I think we are making progress and hope the situation will continue to improve. We still have our liaison officers but a new inspector has taken on the responsibility for rural operations and I met with him for the first time last night. While new to the post and the hunting act in general I was pleased to see he’d taken some time to inform himself of the situation and had also spoken to at least one Master of our local hunt (the Oakley). It’s always interesting to get an insight from the police’s point of view and would have loved to have been a fly-on-the-wall at the meeting he had with Lady Lydia Thompson – pillar of the community, millionaire, choralist, model (I won’t publish the pics, they’ll give you nightmares) and wildlife killer.

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The Angry Egg gets his collar felt.

Despite all their claims to the contrary and much like many other hunts up and down the country the Oakley openly flout the law. We’ve caught them cubbing several times already this autumn and saved foxes when we were there. I believe the new inspector can see that this is taking place and while he also knows that getting a conviction under the hunting act is unlikely he can however restrict the hunts use of thugs to impede our operations. One particularly rotund chap we call the ‘Angry Egg’ was arrested a couple of weeks ago for another assault on a sab. Video evidence was supplied to the police and he was charged with common assault (after spending a very long time in the cells while I was in the pub) and bailed away from any hunting activity until his court case. I believe he is in court this week or at least very shortly regarding an incident last year and has to face a further 3 charges of assault and another of theft of one of our radios during a meet of the Pythley hunt at the very end of last season. Just restricting these morons will be a victory not only for us but also for justice and the decent majority of people who oppose hunting. People like him have been getting away with this kind of unacceptable behaviour for too long and but now the tables are turning. Sooner or later they’ll have to give up the thug act or end up behind bars.

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Lady Lydia Thompson.

Of course Lady Lydia would never admit to employing these low lives and denies all knowledge of them, even though previous master Guy Napier asked them not to attend Oakley meets previously after witnessing first hand their violence. Just like the hounds they are merely means to an end, tools to be used and discarded once their usefulness has run out.

We’ve changed the game and the thugs don’t know how to play by the new rules.

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.