Posts Tagged ‘Cheshire 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.

First off apologies for the lack of recent updates. As much as I’d to say I’d been sunning myself somewhere exotic the reality is I’ve been in bed with flu. Not the man flu type but the proper “kill me now” one. Between the bouts of coughing and splitting headache I had to endure the awful daytime TV, anyway enough about me . . .

It was noted by someone on Facebook recently that the amount of anti-hunt stories and videos making it into the mainstream media this year was incredible and they’re absolutely right. I’ve never known so many stories and videos being published. Of course sabs and montiors are no mugs when it comes to wielding a video camera and utilising social media but I think what makes this year stand out is both the quality and quantity with even the traditionally pro-hunt papers unable to resist the news which the public clearly crave and feel so strongly about.

In light of this you would think that the hunts would be doing their best to avoid any adverse publicity but it seems the opposite is true. There have been a significant number of hunt kills this season and many have been captured in all their gruesome detail. This in turn has to some extent forced the police to act, largely due to the will of public opinion and while these acts of barbarism continue to take place in our countryside support for a complete ban will certainly grow. Even though it was a manifesto promise by the tories it seems any kind of a vote on a repeal would be a long way off right now and even the most staunch hunting supporter would have to admit that it is extremely unlikely that any such vote could be won. As more and more bad PR comes in it only fuels the fire of those against this archaic bloodsport and pushes those either ignorant or undecided firmly into the anti camp.

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The victims windscreen.

This was highlighted perfectly by an incident which was reported to us by a member of the public asking for advice.

It appears our local hunt (the Oakley) were hunting in the vicinity of Meppershall, Bedfordshire. The light was fading and going about their business this person happened upon the hunt while driving the lanes. With hounds and quad bikes all over the road it was lucky a more serious incident didn’t take place however it would seem that Jack Harris (or Calamity Jack as we call him) took exception to someone else having the temerity to use the public highway by smashing the windscreen of this persons car with his riding whip.

Fortunately this person also had a dash cam running and recorded the whole incident. This has of course been passed on to the police and a complaint been made. The sheer arrogance show by the huntsman and the hunt in general is astounding. What right do they have to behave in this manner and the belief that they own the road? Hopefully Jack will be prosecuted for Criminal Damage and the Masters have the decency to offer a public apology and pay for the damage caused. Old Lady Lydia Thompson (Oakley Master) is worth a few bob so paying for a new windscreen would be a drop in the ocean for someone of her means but she looks tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm so I won’t hold my breath.

Next up was an incident which happened near Allerton, North Yorkshire on the 28th January. Hounds from the York & Ainsty North Hunt ran on to the busy A1 bringing both carriages to a standstill. Unfortunately, but hardly surprisingly a hound was struck by a car and killed. The lady who was driving the car was obviously clearly distressed by the incident however the outcome could have been significantly worse. This kind of reckless behaviour by a hunt is nothing new but once again it only reinforces the fact that they were openly hunting as no trail would be laid in such a dangerous place. Not only that but the current trend by huntsman to let the hounds go off by some distance so they can claim an accidental kill should it happen increases the likelihood of these kind of incidents occurring. Hounds under control of the huntsman would be in no danger of crossing busy main roads and putting themselves and the general public at risk.

Hounds however are just dispensable tools of this grisly trade and hunts would rather lose a few hounds than face prosecution for illegal hunting. Of course this pays little consideration to other countryside and road users as hounds run riot where they please be it private gardens or busy roads.

Lastly there was the kill by the Cheshire Foxhounds caught on video by Cheshire Hunt Sabs. In their report on the incident they suspect the fox was bagged prior to the hunt and released in front of the hounds. Full report can be found on their Facebook page. This story like so many other recently made the national media with even the Daily Mail reporting on it.

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Cheshire police issued the fairly standard statement regarding the incident however this type of response doesn’t fill you with a lot of hope regarding any sort of robust investigation and follow up. But the bigger picture shows once again that the hunts are being caught in the act and regardless of the police the will of the general public against hunting will only be strengthened as these barbaric practices committed by a tiny minority are brought to the attention of everyone.

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Standard response.

In the day and age of social media and instant news where everyone is carrying a recording device of some sort you’d think the hunts would be on their best behaviour and try to maintain the image of fine upstanding members of the rural communities the Countryside Alliance paint them out to be however with these constant slip ups in the PR war they’re not just shooting themselves in the foot, they’re laying the foundations for a more solid and reasonable law with which to defend our wildlife and bringing more sabs and monitors into the fields. However I get the feeling that they already well aware of this, know their nasty activity is on borrowed time and are just arrogantly making hay while they can.

Just like Agent Mulder once said; “The truth is out there”.

He wasn’t wrong either. The thing is with the expansion of social media like Facebook and Twitter news can proliferate extremely quickly. We’re not talking about the Government or Murdoch controlled type of news which is always skewed to fit a certain agenda or opinion, we’re talking about basic facts. It’s never been easier to do your own sleuthing or even recording the news on your phone if you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. That news can then be uploaded warts and all, and go viral with thousands of views in no time at all.

Those on the front line of wildlife protection have embraced this fully and rightly so. While the authorities may stand by and take no action the general public can be engaged immediately, forcing those with the power to make change into action through nothing more than email and comments on Twitter or Facebook. A couple of incidents came to light recently which perfectly highlight this, one very close to home but I’ll get to that later.

First up is the case of PC 5336 Clair Ford as seen in the video clip above, filmed and released by North Wales Hunt Saboteurs. You don’t have to be an expert in law to know what PC 5336 is doing is a clear conflict of interest. It’s not the first time a service officer has been caught out (see here and here) but what’s most shocking in this case is the utter blatancy of the officer in question and her belief that she can abuse her position of power to facilitate an illegal activity and not face any consequences. Well is would seem PC Ford has underestimated her opponents and that’s something you should never do.

A tweet from NWHS to Cheshire Police shortly afterwards got this response.

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So within a day or so of the video being uploaded to their Facebook page and then widely shared it would seem the police have been forced to take action. PR is a vital tool in the armory of any group trying to reveal the truth to the wider public and if it’s one thing which the authorities don’t like it’s bad PR and the resultant pressure. The general public (bless em) like nothing more than creating change from the comfort of their homes and no doubt the many complaints the police received where integral to the quick response. What we want now is suitable action to be taken and not some cover up as has been the case in the past. Just in case you can sign the petition right here.

Closer to home now and if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll be no doubt up to speed with my dealing with Bedfordshire Police and their general attitude towards hunting. Things had been going fairly well, there had been a definite improvement in how we were being treated in the field and further to that we were even given our own dedicated police liaison officer who I met with last week. Now I’m never going to be completely trusting of the police but you have to play the hand you’re dealt and nothing will change unless you engage. I’m fairly certain none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for both myself and our group using the tools which we have at our disposal to force the police into action. I’m told our local hunt (the Oakley) also have their own liaison officer and that’s to be expected as the police can’t seem to be favouring one side however thinking about it you have to ask a few questions.

We know from experience the Oakley openly break the law. They pay only minor lip service in creating an alibi for themselves in terms of laying trails and they still employ both terrier men and hunt thugs as unlicensed security. Surely, a completely legal hunt would have nothing to hide and therefore no need for these kind of services? They are clear indications of intent to break the law so why do Bedfordshire police feel the need to give them credibility with their own liaison officer? This isn’t about fairness, its about upholding the law. The police also have a meet card from the hunt, will they be policing these meets when we’re not present. This action implies the police believe the lies the hunt are spouting and both liaison officers are nothing more than a PR exercise used to appease the wider public. The remit of the liaison officers is nothing more than to create a dialogue and perhaps act as a conduit for complaints and issues. I was told in no uncertain terms they weren’t going to act as security against the thugs and wouldn’t be making arrests if they were in the field.

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Sab being sprayed by a thug.

I’m still waiting for the call I was promised before the weekend to see how everything went last Saturday (10/12). I’ve got quite a lot to say considering the amount of abuse and intimidation we faced, our colleagues at South Cambs Hunt Sabs had people assaulted, had property stolen and were sprayed with dye. Not only that they were threatened with arrest for not providing details and bogus claims of a stolen phone. I’m fairly sure had the boot been on the other foot and sabs had behaved in such a manner several would now be on bail pending further inquiries. After a decent start Bedfordshire police once again reverted to type, were more interested in the nonsense claims of the hunt support and the complaints of trespass (civil offence). Amusingly one officer said we had to submit written evidence of wrong doing before we could gain access to private land in order to stop the criminal offence taking place. I might be going our on a limb here but I’d suggest by the time we did that the fox would be dead, the hounds back in kennels and all the riders in the pub having their last drink before heading home. Make no mistake, we witnessed the hounds chasing a fox and a report from a member of the public suggests the hounds rioted on a deer and it could be heard squealing in terror.

The point is without blogs, social media and the internet plus the people who know how to take advantage of this resource none of this information would have made it into the public domain. Some of the police may still think we’re a bunch of long haired, hippie layabouts in need of a shower (the pro hunt side still believe this crappy stereotype) but the are finding out to their cost we’re the exact opposite. Most have good jobs, are bright, well educated, articulate and most importantly, are well versed in making sure the facts see the light of day. Sooner or later, the truth will always come out.

Lets see how long it takes for them to contact me.