Posts Tagged ‘Cambridgeshire Police’

This time last year it was my unfortunate duty to report on a rather grim festive season (see here). This year however I’m pleased to report that things were significantly different. Both hunts I attended were the same as previous years but the difference this time round was the lack of any attempt by the hunts in question (the Cambridge with Enfield Chace and the Fitzwilliam) to actually hunt. Considering Boxing Day and the first New Years hunt are traditionally the biggest days in the hunting calendar this would appear to seem a little odd. Of course they still paraded in all their finery around the local villages and soaked  up the adulation from the hardcore sychophants and hangers on but while they may have talked a big show the reality was significantly different. Judging by information received from other hunts it would seem these weren’t isolated incidents either. So  lets ask ourselves, what was the cause of these changes of plan?

Media attention and public scrutiny.

It has been widely reported recently both on social media and the mainstream press that hunts continue to openly flout the ban. I’ve reported on this blog several times (see here and here) about hunts that have been caught pretty much red handed and yet there is often little or no police action over the incidents. However a very recent poll suggested that support for the ban was in fact at its highest level since its introduction and while these reports can no longer be swept under the carpet, regardless of police inaction the general public will still be made aware of what is really happening and react accordingly. With technology making the recording of high quality video and photographs freely available to all its no surprise that these incidents are captured and they will continue to as long as someone is there to witness it.

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The Cambridge with Enfield Chace just going for a ride on Boxing Day

The growth in numbers of Sabs and Monitors.

Despite the claims to the contrary by Dim Tim Bonner and the CA the membership of the HSA has soared over the last few years. The initial main reason for this was the badger cull where those making their first step in activism came into contact with sabs and they realised it was something they could get on board with, realising that sabs were just normal people and not the urban terrorists some sections of the media made them out to be. Again social media is being well used by sab groups and monitors and the public are seeing the injustices that are taking place and they are understandably getting angry and joining up. This in turn has increased the pressure on the hunts as more sabs and monitors are available to keep an eye on what is going on and step in if necessary. Even a small number of sabs can have a huge impact on a hunting day, even more can stop one completely. Hunts have little option but to run or stick within the law when faced with lots of sabs on their hunting territory.

Has the Countryside Alliance told them to no get caught on the big days out?

Getting busted for hunting illegally is a real pain in the backside for the PR people at the CA. They love to claim there has been so few convictions under the hunting act (although this is more to do with the poor legislation and lack of police interest that actual laws broken) but when their big days come about they’ll wheel out the same sorry old stories about record crowds etc. These are of course complete hogwash. Even if the CA’s own figures of 250,000 are to be believed (they’re not) then that’s still only a tiny percentage of the population (0.003%). The last thing they need is for the chocolate box image of the traditional winter hunt being shown for what it truly is, a bunch of blood junkies on horses with their associated serfs and hangers on ripping sentient mammals to pieces for fun. Did the CA put the word out to the hunts to just put on a show and go for a ride on their big day? Of course we have no solid information on this but the fact many hunts stayed within the law must suggest there had been some sort of internal memo and while it probably didn’t tell them to not to hunt it probably suggested they take all reasonable steps to not get caught.

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The Fitzwilliam on Bank Holiday Monday

Are the police finally taking action?

Not really. While some forces are taking steps to properly uphold the law others are a complete disgrace. Personally speaking and in terms of the hunting act I’ve reported on Bedfordshire Police’s efforts and Cambs seem to have much more of an understanding as well although it seems they are overloaded just chasing chasing hare coursers for which the wide open spaces of Cambs are ideal. It would also seem that Leicestershire Police who I’ve been highly critical of in the past are now starting to act properly and this may have had something to do with the PCC witnessing first hand what the hunts in the area get up to (see here), but having said that certain forces openly continue to either turn a blind eye to blatant hunting or are even facilitating it by persecuting monitors and sabs, it seems especially bad in Suffolk and Surrey.

Whatever the reasons behind the lack of hunting on these big calendar days, and I suspect it is a combination of all of the above and we should be grateful that no wildlife was abused in these instances. I’ve no doubt once the spotlight is shining elsewhere they’ll go back to their killing ways but right now I’m personally glad I don’t have the images of hounds pulling a terrified animal apart in front of me.

I’m just back from court. They day was a little frustrating but also interesting to see how our legal process works. The huntsman and and bird of prey handler from the Fitzwilliam Hunt were due in court to face charges in relation to hunting a wild mammal with dogs in contravention of the Hunting with Dogs Act 2004 and another charge of cruelty to a protected animal  which dates back to 2013. The details of the incident were cover in my blog entry here.

George Adam (64) the huntsman (now retired) and bird of prey handler John Mease (44) were both due to appear today (27th) but their legal representation requested an adjournment which was granted. They are due to appear again on the 31st August.

Adams_Mease

They were due to appear in court 2 of Peterborough Magistrates Court. Court 2, we were informed is the “not guilty” plea court. Of course it’s up to the defendant how they plea when they’re in there but in most cases the courts have a fair idea of what the plea will be in advance. So is there anything we can read into this?

Well, perhaps they’ve reconsidered their options and will now be entering a guilty plea? Certainly such a plea will lessen the penalties although for a hunt with such a history, wealth and high standing I doubt this would be a consideration. A more likely option is that they are just drawing the matter out as long as possible so their legal team can explore every possible option in an effort to circumnavigate the justice they should face. We all know that the legislation isn’t fit for purpose and needs to be strengthened however it’s all we have to work with at the time and I believe we have a solid case. More importantly the CPS will only prosecute if they believe they can secure a conviction and Cambridgshire police did a solid job with the investigation.

dead fox

The annoying thing with these matters is that everyone involved knows they are guilty, privately the huntsman will probably admit he was illegally hunting (John Mease was laughing as the hounds killed the fox so he certainly believes to be above the law) and the fact they killed a fox isn’t up for debate. The problem lies with proof that there was intent to hunt a wild mammal with dogs and that’s where hunts know they can get out of facing up to their crimes. This case has huge importance regarding the Bird of Prey Exemption which I wrote about at length here, and no doubt this point isn’t lost on the defence’s legal team and the Countryside Alliance in general.

I’ll report back on the 31st. Fingers crossed.

If you’ve been a follower of this blog you’ll no doubt be aware that I’ve been involved with the investigation regarding the killing of a fox on New Years Day by the Fitzwilliam Hunt near Wansford in Cambridgeshire. My report from the day can be found here. The legal process has been proceeding and Cambridgeshire Police carried out what appeared to be a thorough investigation and I was kept updated at regular intervals by the investigating officer.

Personnel from the hunt were interviewed under caution with their legal (and no doubt very expensive) representation present. I am now very happy to report that after reviewing the evidence which included that submitted by the hunt, the CPS are going to go ahead and prosecute both the huntsman, George Adams (now retired) and the bird of prey handler, John Mease.

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George Adams and John Mease – Let’s hope they’re not smiling after the court case.

They will be facing charges under the hunting with dogs act as well as a further charge of cruelty which arose during the investigation. As we all know the legislation with regard to the Hunting Act isn’t the most robust so I think it’s quite an achievement just to get the CPS to take one of the oldest and most influential hunts in the country to court. Obviously I can’t reveal any more regarding the details but should we get the desired outcome and gain a prosecution then it could have some serious implications for other hunts that use (or pretend to) the Bird of Prey exemption. Hunts may be forced to abandon the exemption if they know they are liable for prosecution and then they’ll have unwanted and costly birds of prey to get rid of.

At this point I’d like to thank Cambs Police for a solid job so far and those behind the scenes who advised me from the legal and animal welfare professions,  you know who you are.

However it’s not all good news. Once again the animal hunters prove their type by the vicious assaults which took place last weekend perpetrated by the Cheldon Buckhounds. A press release from the HSA can be found here. Further updates reveal that one sab has indeed a badly fractured skull that will require surgery from a specialist. The body cam the sab was wearing at the time was also stolen by his attackers, there’s a funding page for a new one here if you would like to donate.

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Cheldon Thug

You only have to look at some of the comments on the pro hunt Facebook pages to understand the sort of people sabs have to deal with week in week out. They really are the lowest of the low, and quite frankly I pity them. Their lives must be so twisted and bitter to think and write such things. Obviously my best wishes to all who suffered at the hands of these low lives and rest assured that it won’t end there.

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Bloodied by not beaten.

Our operation last weekend against our favourite hunt (the Oakley) was hugely successful and more importantly a huge embarrassment for them as they were hosting the Cambridge & Enfield Chace. They stubbornly rode around the countryside trying to hunt but were completely thwarted, they packed up well before their normal time at 2:15pm. The real interest here was once again the deployment of the police helicopter as well as ground units.

The air unit was on the scene for a significant amount of time and was of course there to monitor the saboteurs and not the attempted illegal hunting going on in full view. I’ve had meetings with the PCC for Bedfordshire, Olly Martens and a senior inspector and they informed me in no uncertain terms that they would never authorise the use of the air asset for such an incident. They simply cannot afford to do so. The financial restrictions on the police in Bedfordshire are significant and this is affecting their capabilities. Olly also confirmed his support for the hunting ban which was good to know.

chopper

Happy your taxes are paying for this?

As several counties share the use of the helicopter we can deduce that a bordering force was responsible for the deployment of such an expensive asset. The operation was on the border with Cambridgeshire so we can safely assume it came from them. I’ve mentioned previously that vocal hunt supporters have claimed someone senior within the Cambridgeshire force rides, or has strong connections with the hunt and every time we turn up to oppose them, resources are put into play as if money was no object.

I’m pretty sure most tax payers, regardless of their thoughts on hunting would be annoyed that vast sums of money were being squandered in support a minority pass time that was banned in 2004. Is monitoring saboteurs what the police helicopter is really there for? I’ve sent a FOI request asking for the costs and who authorised it. I know the police read this blog (hi guys) so if any of you feel the need to comment then please do so. If and when we find out the name of the person with the authority to order a police response like this then it will be published which could make things very difficult for them. First and foremost the police should remain impartial, any proven deviation from this and the misuse of public money is nothing more than gross misconduct and they should face the consequences.

UPDATE: I just had the response from Cambridgeshire Police to my FIO request. It would seem they have no record of the incident and are claiming the jurisdiction falls under Bedfordshire Police. Now either they’re lying or our person with contacts is part of the Bedfordshire establishment and not Cambridge. If the PCC is unaware of this then there could be further ramifications. Clearly more digging is required.