Posts Tagged ‘Illegal hunting’

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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So, we’re only a few weeks into the main hunting season and it’s all kicking off already. We’re getting the usual hunt violence, illegal killing and inconsistent policing, which will be my focus on this blog.

If you’re a follower you’ll already know we’ve been trying to break down the historical differences between the police and those in wildlife protection and, by-and-large we’ve had some success. Bedfordshire police are acting on violence shown by the hired hunt thugs and starting to understand the reality of hunting within the county. While they may not be able to arrest the hunters themselves due to the poorly written legislation they aren’t interfering with our operations to oppose them.

However the same cannot be said for other forces across the country. A couple of weeks ago we sabbed the Puckeridge Hunt, Tim Bonner’s (CEO so called Countryside Alliance) home hunt (full report here) and the police on the day showed a combination of naivety and ignorance. They were naive in that they should never have accepted a ride on the back of a hunt terrier man’s quad bike because it looks very bad for them and puts into question their impartiality (especially when terrier men have no legitimate role in a trail hunt) and ignorant of the laws that were in question on the day. Claiming they have powers to take your details is of course complete nonsense (and we told them so) and asking us to leave private land is also a civil matter, it’s nothing to do with the police.

I explained the situation to them regarding the difference between criminal (illegal hunting) and civil (trespass) and we were exercising our right as citizens to prevent the criminal offence from taking place by trespassing. I don’t believe Hertfordshire Police were acting in bias of the hunt, the officers that attended were just not equipped with the right knowledge to make a reasonable call and unfortunately made bad snap decisions based on preconceived historical prejudice. I’ll be discussing the matter further with Herts rural WCO in due course.

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Herts Police being lied to (probably).

If you read though the report from other sab groups around the country some areas have what can only be described as truly biased forces. There’s forces are openly acting as a private security service and facilitating illegal hunting by their very actions. Norfolk Police would appear to be one of those forces. Our colleagues at Norfolk & Suffolk Hunt Sabs are fighting a constant battle not only against the hunters but also the local police force. Last weekend Norfolk Police arrested a sab at a meet of the Dunston Harriers for Aggravated Trespass.

The offence is as follows: A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land [in the open air] and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land [in the open air], does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—

(a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,

(b) of obstructing that activity, or

(c) of disrupting that activity.

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Norfolk Police riding on hunt terrier man’s quad bike.

Considering the sabs had earlier made calls to the police of illegal hunting which were completely ignored (they had already illegally killed a Hare and the hounds were covered in that animals blood) their claims could easily be justified and therefore the above offence cannot be considered by the police officers. In spite of this an arrest was made, the sab removed in handcuffs and spent several hours locked up in a cell.

Norfolk Police have also released the following statement:

Police were called to farmland in Roudham at about 12.20pm yesterday, Saturday 18 November, following reports of a confrontation involving two groups.

Officers attended and while at the scene, were advised of allegations that a hare had been killed. Both parties were spoken to and a search was carried out. No evidence was found. Anyone with evidence is asked to contact police on 101.

We are aware of images on social media of our officers on a quad bike. While recognising the concerns, the officers had been searching in fields and got into difficulty due to the muddy terrain. At this point, they were assisted by the landowner using a quad bike which at no point travelled on a public road or highway. 

This statement just stinks quite frankly. Regardless of whether the officers were on a public road or not it still shows a level of collusion with the hunt in question. It would also be a question as to whether the police would be insured to be riding around on such a vehicle in that manner. Also what evidence did they think they were going to find of a hare which had been pulled apart by a pack of hounds? The Dunston Harriers could have made up any old tale and it seems the police would have believed them. Remember in the case of AT the burden falls on the prosecution to prove that the activity being interfered with was legal, and in this case a claim had already been made to the contrary which was insufficiently investigated. (See similar case explained here)

Please contact Norfolk Police to complain.

Facebook: Norfolk Constabulary

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Email the chief constable Simon Bailey.

PCC Lorne Green: opccn@norfolk.pnn.police.uk

Another force which appears to be openly biased is Sussex Police. At the opening meet of the Crawley a& Horsham Hunt a saboteur was assaulted by huntsmen using their horses as weapons, a common tactic for hunts. Bearing my this particular hunt have been convicted in the past of illegal hunting its not a massive leap of faith to assume they would continue to do so. In this case the sab was arrested for assault on the hunters and – you’ll like this, criminal damage to the hunters pocket. Take a look at the video.

It’s very clear that the huntsman on the horse was acting aggressively to the sab and the sab was only trying to defend himself. In such instances serious injury and potentially worse can occur if the sab was knocked to the ground and trampled by the horse, he, and those with him had every right to take whatever action was required to keep themselves safe. It speaks volumes that when sabs or monitors make calls to the police very little is done, if anything at all and yet even when the hunters are the perpetrators of the crime the police will act swiftly in coming to their defence. Time for some more complaints.

Facebook: Sussex Police

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Cheif Constable Giles York Email.

PCC Katey Bourne: pcc@sussex-pcc.gov.uk

This level of inconsistent policing simply cannot be allowed to continue. We all know the Hunting Act needs strengthening but in the mean time we need to have a national policing initiative which will allow an even handed approach to all concerned along with better understanding of the laws in place. Forces showing an obvious bias should come under increased scrutiny and those responsible removed from their positions. Bias from various forces in nothing new and no doubt it will continue but with the overwhelming support of the British public we can get things changed so start emailing, commenting and tweeting, if its something the police don’t like it’s bad PR.

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.

I’ve heard some far fetched excuses in my time but this one has to take the biscuit. It came from Mark Bycroft, huntsman for the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hill hunt. Mark has convictions for assaulting anyone who gets in the way of his blood lust and is a serial fox killer, not exactly the sort of person you’d describe as a reliable witness. His outrageous claims were in response to the horrific video published by North Downs and Guildford Sabs of a fox the hunt had killed south of Chiddingstone last Saturday (3/12). Sabs were unfortunately only moments too late to save the animal but according to Bycroft it was all their fault.

He said; “I understand they found a dead fox in the wood but I wasn’t there at the time so I don’t know what has happened. They use hunting horns and play recordings and try to disrupt the hounds. If an incident has happened they are to blame.”

So lets look at the facts:

A hunt is in the area, the only hunt and Bycroft is the huntsman.

Hounds have killed a fox as they are trained to do.

The hounds belong to the hunt which is in the area.

Sabs are on the scene moments later and witness the kill and record footage.

Hunt staff/terrier men are aware the hounds are hunting a wild mammal.

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If Bycroft wasn’t there what the hell was he doing? It’s his job to be in control of the hounds. Blaming sabs for the incident is of course complete and utter nonsense. Their only desire is to save the hunted animal and they did their very best however they’re hardly likely to act in a way which would scupper their primary aims. Now this means that Bycroft is either completely incompetent at his job (which is possible) or he’s purposefully casting the hounds into areas looking for foxes and leaving them to get on with it on purpose so he has the excuse of not knowing anything about what is transpiring.

Except of course he knew all along the hounds were on a fox. Terrier men were observed hollering to indicate they’d seen a fox, the hounds were in full cry (making a loud baying noise) and hunt staff were nearby with full knowledge and made no attempt to call off the hounds.

Rightly this has made the national media and the evidence has been passed on to the police however despite the obvious illegality I doubt there will be any convictions resulting. Lee Moon, spokesperson for the HSA summed up;

“Mark Bycroft has previous convictions for assaulting hunt saboteurs. His hunt have also been filmed illegally chasing and killing foxes but have never been prosecuted for this due to the inadequacies of the police and the Hunting Act. We hope this time it will be different but won’t hold our breath. Whether they get prosecuted or not this video footage speaks for itself. The Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent are a bunch of rural law breakers who think they are above the laws of the land. Well done to the sabs present who, although they weren’t able to save this particular fox have again highlighted the reality of hunting since the ban.”

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This wasn’t the only incident last weekend.

You may remember I reported on several incidents previously regarding the Belvoir Hunt (see here, here and here) and it seems they still regard themselves as untouchable. Three foxes were killed by the hunt in the same day from their meet at The Wolds Farm near Holwell. Also present on the day was the PPC for Leicestershire Lord Willy Bach along with officers from the Leicestershire force. Sabs from Northants Hunt Sabs witnessed a fox being chased and brutally killed in a farmyard near Scalford Hall. Huntsman John Holliday was present and made no attempt to stop or call off the hounds but dismounted his horse and assaulted a female sab as they tried to save the animal. It unfortunately died in the arms of the sabs at the scene.

On reporting this incident to the police they confirmed the Belvoir had already killed 2 further foxes, this time in the grounds of a nearby nursing home which was witnessed by staff and patients alike and reported by a horrified member of the public. The police also had the bodies of the murdered foxes as evidence. Lee Moon from the HSA again;

“2016 has shown the world exactly what the Belvoir hunt are like. They were implicated in keeping captive foxes, then viciously assaulting those who had exposed them. Now as the year draws to a close they brazenly hunt and kill three foxes in the presence of Leicestershire Police. Members of Leicestershire Police, including former wildlife crime officer Sharon Roscoe, are known to ride with the Belvoir and we hope this doesn’t influence any investigation. It is perhaps fortunate that the Leicestershire PCC was also present on the day to insist that this latest law breaking by the Belvoir is not brushed under the carpet.”

These incidents just show the utter contempt hunts have for the law and their arrogance by still claiming what they are doing is legal. No-one with any sense believes their lies any more and the blatant manner in which they pursue their grisly agenda time and again is a true reflection of their desire to kill and remain immune from justice. There has been a review in Scotland recently on their hunting laws and I remain hopeful that progress will be made there. The same process should be followed in England and Wales however the big difference here is we have a pro-hunt Government and an Environment Secretary who wants to repeal the act. Until these hurdles are removed it will be left to those in the field putting themselves on the line to stand up for our wildlife – The Hunt Saboteurs. Find your local group and bung them a few bob.