Posts Tagged ‘Fox Hunting’

There’s always a recurring theme to many of the questions we get asked both in person and on social media with regards to hunting with hounds. When people finally realise that hunting still goes on largely as it did before the ban they then ask why the police don’t arrest those who are responsible. I’m going to cover what I believe are the 6 main reasons for their lack of action on this issue and hopefully this will also go some way in helping to understand the actions we, as activists take in response to that.

1 – Funding.

Police forces are facing huge challenges in funding their activities and some are desperately trying to juggle their needs and that of public opinion. Our local force is probably the most underfunded in the country and I believe also rated one of the worse in performance. The problem they have is that’s it’s a largely rural county with a couple of large urban conurbations which are, as one officers said off record, “terrorist central”. Clearly the policing of these areas will always take precedence along with the bulk of the funding and this can be construed as neglecting the wider issues in the countryside by the general public. Locally up to a couple of years ago we didn’t even have a dedicated team for rural policing but now this has been resolved and I guess it at least says something that we have a dedicated officer who acts as liaison for our group and a conduit for the transfer of information.

While not all counties will be the same I have no doubt that the majority of funding for police operations will go elsewhere and the whole hunting issue is well down the list of importance.

2 – How the police work.

One of the main points to understand is how the police work and this will explain their actions, or of course the lack of.

Think of the police force as a large company. The product they sell is convictions. The more convictions they achieve the better it will look on their books and the more funding they will receive from Government. Unsolved crimes will go against them. Ultimately the police want to spend the money allocated to them in the most cost effective way possible and achieve the most convictions. If they perceive an illegal activity not worthy of spending time and money on with an investigation due to the poor conviction rate then they simply won’t bother. You’ll often hear the police and CPS in particular say; “it’s not in the public interest”.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that they think the public aren’t interested in them prosecuting but the cost of that investigation will outweigh the chance of a successful outcome. This will affect many minor crimes and not just those in relation to the Hunting Act.

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Waste of police resources?

3 – Resource Allocation.

This also relates to point 1 however it’s worth noting as a separate point. We’ve spoken to officers attending hunts who’ve said; “We can’t stay here long there’s a football match we have to police”. Sporting events like football matches obviously take a lot of policing and clubs pay for some of this (inside the stadiums) so it makes sense to take resources from one area to fill another with a greater need and also one which is likely to put something at least back into the financial pot. Although I use the football match analogy there are likely to be many other instances where priority over hunting will take place. In the grand scheme of things hunting is well down the pecking order in the level of priority.

4 – The Legislation.

I think it’s fairly well accepted by everyone on both sides that the Hunting Act isn’t fit for purpose. It has many glaring loop holes, some so big you could drive a horse box through them. Obviously this is no cause for any repeal like the so-called Countryside Alliance and their chief fibber dim Tim Bonner continually bang on about as some very straight forward changes could make the act a very successful and workable piece of legislation. I’ll cover this in more detail in another blog post to come.

Because the Hunting Act is convoluted and written with the law breakers in mind it becomes very difficult for the police to take it seriously and therefore not waste their time and effort in trying to police it. Once again this relates to all the other points of funding, allocating resources and how the police work. Only last Saturday while on operations against the Puckeridge Hunt in Hertfordshire (Tim Bonner’s home hunt) I spoke to the Sergeant in charge of policing on that day and his words were quite revealing.

“We know what the hunt get up to, they don’t fool us any more than they do you but there’s virtually no chance of prosecuting them. We even have to use much older legislation (the Game Act 1831) against the hare coursers we have that come to the county as it’s a better way of prosecuting them than using the Hunting Act”.

This statement speaks volumes.

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A hunter gets narky at plod for not arresting those nasty antis.

5 – Lack of knowledge within the police force, particularly officers attending hunts.

There simply isn’t enough officers which understand the act and are able to make rational decisions from what they witness when attending hunts. Decent wildlife crime officers are in very short supply. We’ve actually worked with some pretty decent officers, some are dedicated and really want to prosecute those who abuse our wildlife but on the whole officers attending hunts have virtually no idea of what they are doing. This is why when they attend they will say they are only there to maintain public order, its what they know and how to deal with.

A couple of weeks ago I was once again speaking to an officer attending a hunt. I showed him evidence of several foxes being flushed by the hunt on my video camera. He made a call to someone obviously more senior for some advice and the response was that as no foxes had been killed then no crime had taken place! This is clearly nonsense and I explained to the officer present that all you need to do is prove the intent to hunt a live mammal, no kill has to take place. The glaringly obvious evidence to back up the intent of the hunt was the presence of masked terrier men (those fence menders the CA like to talk about) with spades and terriers in boxes. There is of course no legitimate reason for these to be on a genuine trail hunt. But then again there’s no such thing as a legitimate trail hunt.

Too many officers will arrive at a hunt and make a snap decision based on their perception (and prejudice) of the people who are there. Who will they believe, a bunch of posh people dressed smartly on horseback or a bunch of sabs who are probably covered in mud and sweating from running around the countryside all day?

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Only interested in protecting the Atherstone Hunt

6 – Corruption.

Good old corruption. The old boys (or girls) club looking after their own. Make no mistake there are a large number of officers and judiciary who hunt. We expose these when we can to make it as difficult for them to influence things as possible (stay tuned for later blog posts as I’ve got an absolute peach of one coming up soon) but irrespective of their claims of impartiality corruption does take place.

The bias shown by some forces and officers can only lead us to draw the simple conclusion that officers on the coal face are either bias themselves or have been instructed to act in a certain manner when dealing with hunts and those who stand against them. I’ve seen officers look the other way while a fox has been chased between police cars with the hounds in pursuit. We’ve seen helicopters deployed to monitor sabs that would have cost the tax payer thousands of pounds. West Mids Hunt Sabs gained audio recordings of officers advising the Atherstone Hunt on which laws to use against sabs and monitors. The CA have ex senior officers manipulating police policy where they can. I’ve written on the subject before and will of course continue to do so. Where there is power there will be corruption and I believe it to exist at all levels within the police force.

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PC Sharon Roscoe & Inspector Lou Cordiner at the Belvoir Hunt Ball

We’ve worked with many that are genuine and honest, lots will even privately tell you that they support what we do and wish us the best, but the fact remains no matter how much progress we make (and that’s been considerable) with regard to police relations there remains an issue which needs to be resolved.

Bonus blog post this week as I just had to respond to something which appeared on Facebook. Regular readers will no doubt be aware of my own personal battle with the Fitzwilliam Hunt and getting them to court to face justice over the killing of a fox on New Years Day 2016. Of course the delays wouldn’t stop our combined operations against them with other local groups and most notably North Cambs Hunt Sabs as it’s their local hunt.

I’d always say the more success you have against these people the more they’ll come out with lies and fabrications to discredit us and restore their ever thinning veneer of credibility. These outbursts are nothing more than spitting out their combined dummies and are easily picked apart. Let me demonstrate. Below is a statement from their Facebook page, a page where they said they would never mention antis or sabs.

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Fitzwilliam Hunt Facebook Statement

1 – We have changed practices to comply with the Hunting Act. Well, not really or you wouldn’t be in court this April. Simple one that. They always seem forget this, I wonder why?

2 – Exercising hounds and horses together, hunting a laid trail, using hounds to flush a fox into the open when it can be taken by a bird of prey. The Fitzwilliam have never just exercised hounds. Why is there always a terrier man present if they are just exercising or following a trail for that matter. Indeed the last time we saw them with a trail layer he was some distance behind the hounds with the grubby rag flapping about 3 feet off the ground. On the same day John Mease (their BoP handler and co-defendant in the case) was also there. One could safely assume that you’re either following a trail or you admit to hunting live quarry by flushing to the BoP. They CANNOT legally combine these. Were they following a trail or flushing to an Eagle when all their hounds rampaged through the village of Upwood recently?

While we’re on the subject of that it should be noted that the legality of using the BoP is questionable a best. I covered the subject in more depth here but when hunts started using this loophole Defra stated:

“Employing (whether or not released to hunt) a bird of prey which does not ordinarily hunt that particular wild mammal [would be illegal], because, in our view, it suggests that the flushing was not for the purpose of enabling the bird of prey to hunt the mammal.” The falconry exemption allowed dogs to flush out wild mammals for the birds to hunt but not to “run after, chase or pursue the wild mammal after it has been flushed out. Nor does the exemption allow the dog(s) to kill the wild mammal.” Britain’s second biggest bird of prey, the Golden Eagle, only takes small fox cubs in the wild. Up to 30 hunts are believed to have bought birds of prey in an attempt to test the act”.

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John Mease

3 – Whilst doing this, we are harassed by men and women (many are masked) who abuse us, behave in an intimidating way, trespass repeatedly on private land and spray wildlife habitat and our horses and hounds with noxious sprays, all with the intent of preventing our lawful activity. Firstly we don’t wear masks and neither do the sabs from our comrades North Cambs. Some groups attending do so and that’s their right. We don’t intimidate, we turn up and monitor and step in when they hunt live quarry. As they are displaying all the required criteria of an illegal hunt it is our right to prevent this from happening and as such can legally access private land to do so. Trespass is a civil offence, the Hunting Act is criminal.

Their mention of wildlife habitat is quite frankly insulting to the intelligence of anyone who reads their post. They don’t give a stuff about wildlife. Only last week we had to report on a badger sett which was illegally blocked by their terrier man (on their own land) to stop foxes escaping. The thick clay earth had sett like concrete and the danger to the Badgers trapped underground was clear. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, they are habitual sett blockers and North Cambs have even caught the terrier man in the act! Let’s face it a pack of hunting hounds charging through the countryside along with a whole bunch of horses isn’t exactly good for any wildlife. We see all sorts of birds and animals scattering in all directions in utter terror.

Sabs don’t carry noxious sprays. We use citronella, a non-toxic essential oil mixed with water that has a lemony smell that can mask the scent of a fox. It’s totally harmless. We’ve never spray hounds or horses, any animal cruelty goes against our very ethos. These are simply badly constructed lies, swallowed by those who live in the sad little bubble inhabited by the hunt themselves.

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Fitzwilliam terrier man caught red handed

4 – The many, vindictive and confused posts on local Hunt Saboteur group pages suggest they have at best a flawed understanding of the law regarding hunting and no regard for the law regarding trespass or our right to pursue lawful activity. They may think they have the right to enforce their views on us, but they don’t. Now they  really are struggling with reality. We report on what happened on Facebook. It may not be the truth they want to hear but you can’t argue with the facts. Our understanding of the law has to be spot on otherwise we’d be arrested in no time at all. Funny how they are the ones going to court and yet no sabs. They keep mentioning “lawful activity” but it’s patently clear that’s nonsense as I’ve already explained.

So that’s enough for now. Rest assured we take this as a victory, proof indeed that our efforts are having an effect and judging by the poor turnout over the festive period it seems the message is getting through.

Photos courtesy of North Cambs Hunt Sabs

Something a little different for this blog post.

Becoming involved in the protection of wildlife through direct action can be a big step. I remember my first sab quite clearly and well, the rest as they say is history but I thought it may be interesting to get a newbies perspective after their first year on the front line against the hunters. So here it is, over to Titch . . .

I write this guest piece for MoreThanJustBadgers to mark a personal anniversary. Last Saturday was a year to the day since I first sabbed a fox hunt with my local group.
Before then, I was sat comfortably in my bubble of naivety. I had voted in the general election of 2001 guided by the prospect of a Hunting Act, having seen it pass into law I had thought that was that. Not until the Hunt Saboteurs Association managed to get into my twitter feed at the end of 2016, did I realise any differently.

Within a fortnight I was joining up with associates in the cause of animal welfare, learning the ways and language of the hunt, as well as the real reason for keeping your distance from heavily set, self-appointed, amateur ‘stewards’ (I’d have written something far less polite – Ed).

Over this past year I have been privileged to have campaigned and taken part in direct action against fox hunts, mink hunts, wild bird shoots and badger culling. I’ve witnessed untold numbers of animals escape with their freedom under the watch of sabs, and I have also sadly seen the deaths of some unfortunate creatures too. I’ve worked with people from the length and breadth of the UK, as well as activists from Europe too.

I learned that being vegan alone was not enough. Simply not taking part, allows horrors to be committed against animals week in week out. Compassionate and thoughtful people are needed to take a stand, to prevent what acts of cruelty they can, and to shine a light on what they can’t.

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The sun sets on another successful sab.

During the year I have been punched, kicked, threatened with weapons, driven at by quads and various 4×4’s, informed that I am going to be arrested, beaten up or even killed. I’ve seen friends beaten, bloodied, whipped and even arrested. I’ve spent time in muddy fields and wading streams, as well as in police interview rooms giving statements. Hunt sabbing has been exhilarating, as well as at times dangerous, but ultimately always rewarding and worthwhile.

The one constant throughout my first year of activism has been the unwavering attitudes of hunters. Every week they assemble, 11am sharp wearing the same dated outfits and following the same tired routines. They profess to be continuing their tradition, but in reality this is a rut. An endless cycle of pretence and theatrics constructed to deny the advance of time and sensibility. The same tired clichés are heard, “we’re hunting within the law, you antis spray hounds with acid and pull children off horses”, and so on. After attending a shade under 40 hunts in my first year, I have not once witnessed a trail being laid.

Policing has been variable at best. With some notable exceptions, most police officers have been content to turn their back on any reports of illegality by organised hunts, in favour of preserving public order. Of course, from a police officer’s point of view, thirty smartly dressed people riding horses in a field is perfectly good ‘public order’. Hunt sabs turning up and making a scene immediately brings that precious public order into question and on go the blue lights.

Will I still be sabbing this time next year? Almost certainly so. In five years? It’s certainly a possibility given the speed of change this country. Any further that that only time, and the House of Commons and future governments, will tell . . .

On the 5th of September Leicestshire Police will be holding a training day with the focus being on Hunting. They have held these training days previously and it is my understanding that anti-hunt groups have been represented in the past and shared their experiences of hunting. This is of course a good thing, however it would seem that all is not right.

If you didn’t read this story the first time it was published I suggest that you do so now.

Umasking the Shadow Man

The guest blog above is a well researched and written piece, it perfectly highlights what activist are up against in this country and how the Countryside Alliance are purely there to influence and cajole the police on how they deal with those who’s goal is to save the lives of illegally hunted animals and uphold the law in the face of huge provocation, intimidation and violence. The CA’s sole purpose is to subvert the law to their members benefit and create an opinion within the police force that monitors and sabs are nothing more than terrorists and trouble makers to be dealt with harshly and unfairly while all the time the real criminals can carry on flouting the law with impunity.

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From my friends over at West Mids Hunt Sabs:

“Last year Philip Davies attended the National Police Chief Council conference where he did a 20 minute talk entitled “Hunting without Harassment” (nevermind that hunting is illegal) and in the talk he portrayed sabs as violent and dangerous criminals and pushed for the use of Section 35 anti-social behaviour dispersal orders and section 60AA powers.

Leicestershire Police need reminding that over the past three years the Atherstone Hunt and its associates have collected 20 convictions, cautions and community resolutions for violence and anti-social behaviour with possibly more to follow. 11 of these are convictions for assault. We on the other hand have none. Zero. We have not even been charged with anything. So quite clearly the violent dangerous criminals are the Atherstone Hunt. That is a fact.

The Atherstone Hunt has gained a lot of unwanted press for foxhunting over the past few years and because of this they are constantly looking at ways to get rid of us. However documenting and exposing illegal hunting is not a crime and neither is preventing any breaches of the Hunting Act.

Leicestershire Police should also remind themselves that the CA is a pressure group who want the Hunting Act repealed, an organisation who were behind the Hunting Declaration Day on 1st November 2003. This saw 50,000 hunt supporters publicly sign declarations that they would break any future law that banned hunting. How can a police force invite someone to an event whose organisation advocates breaking the law? And not just any law but one of laws being discussed at that meeting.

The Countryside Alliance is a dangerous organisation involved in organised crime and the promotion of violence and the breaking of the law. As such inviting them to this event will be legitimising criminality. It would be like inviting the mafia to assist and guide police officers on the issue of drug dealing”.

So what can you do?

Contact Leicestshire Police on Facebook: Click Here

Contact Chief Constable Simon Cole: Email – Twitter

Leicstershire PCC (Lord Willy Bach): Email – Twitter

Politely express your concerns over the inclusion of Philip Davies and why he shouldn’t be trying to influence policing for the benefit of criminals.