Posts Tagged ‘Northamptonshire Police’

Well that was a hectic weekend.

We’ve had quite a few requests from people wanting to get directly involved with saving our wildlife and of course that’s great however as the hunting season comes to an end the hunts get more desperate to kill and tensions increase. It’s certainly no time to introduce someone new to the game where cool heads and experience are required.

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The Walk of Shame

As a group we’ve had the polar opposites in terms of operations. First we hit the North Bucks Beagles mid week after a tip off and they packed up the moment they saw us and then at the other end of the scale were the Fitzwilliam who hunted to the last. Even with 4 sab groups combined against them this hunt refused to lose face and jack it in. They hunted several foxes and came very close indeed to killing at least two. We’re fairly certain without our presence the mortality rate would have been high and when you consider this is the same hunt in court next month you begin to understand their arrogance and belief they can do what they like.

A few of interesting points from the day stick in my mind.

First one was the fox which passed close to us followed by the hound about a minute behind. The huntsman (Simon Hunter) shouted at us, “Why didn’t you stop them?” of course we held them up as best we could and indeed believe it gave fox enough time to find cover and escape however these weren’t the words of a man concerned with the welfare of the fox the hounds were ‘accidentally’ after. These were the words of someone covering their own arse. This was indeed his attempt at an alibi should we have the evidence to bring them to court again. The Fitzwilliam use the Bird of Prey Exemption and I’ve written about this before at length (see here) but also by using this exemption they are admitting to hunting a live quarry. Of course to use this loophole the bird of prey has to be in a position to hunt the flushed animal and as usual this is simply never the case. The bird and handler (John Mease – also court next month for hunting act offences and cruelty) are only ever there for show.

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One of several that we helped get away.

The whole day really was like pre ban hunting. Badger setts were blocked (and unblocked by our colleagues at North and South Cambs Sabs) foxes were hunted to ground and one escaped in a grave yard where the fence bars were narrow enough for the fox but not the hounds. Whenever you see hunt staff dismount you know there’s trouble afoot and get in there as quick as possible. The weasily little turd of a Whipper In hit me with his hunting horn as I pulled out the hounds but I’ve been hit by bigger and tougher people than him and not backed down and they didn’t get the fox which is all that matters.

Later on two riders were using their horses as weapons against a sabs and when we intervened a particularly overweight and ugly rider (we’ll call him Tubbs for a couple of reasons) completely lost his sh*t and violently reacted by whipping a sab in the head. This could have resulted in a very serious injury, it was very close to her eye but luckily she receive nothing more than a sore red lump. Typically Tubbs showed once again what cowards they really are. Once the police arrive on the scene he had vanished, clearly scared to face any repercussions.

Speaking of the police it would seem that the Northants force has some way to go to understand the Hunting Act. When officers finally arrived after multiple calls they were as expected not interested in any hunting offences. I took time to show the officers the very clear footage of the fox being pursued by the hounds and to my amazement they claimed that was not illegal. Now the officers were obviously not used to dealing with hunting related incidents however their excuse for claiming no law had been violated was the fact the fox got away and was not killed. This is of course complete nonsense, a hunt only has to show intend to be guilty and the Fitzwilliam had shown this in spades. The hunt master then declared to the officer that they were going to continue on private land and to detain the sabs present to stop them following. I once again pointed out that you can enter private land to prevent a criminal offence and as we had sufficient evidence to suspect this may take place were would go where we pleased. I also pointed out that trespass is a civil offence. The officers by this time were looking somewhat overwhelmed and stated to all present, “We’re only here for public order”. The master galloped off in huff with sabs in tow.

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Caption competition time!

The most amusing part of the day was seeing a hunt supporters expensive 4×4 in a ditch with the police looking on. It transpires the driver was so keen to get some pictures on his phone of our colleagues he completely forgot about keeping his car on the road with the predictable results. No doubt a fine and some points will be following shortly.

Finally it’s great to see at least one hunt brought to justice. 3 members  of the Grove and Rufford Hunt (Paul Larby, 58, Peter White, 57, and Jane Wright, 63) were found guilty at Mansfield Magistrates. Of course they claimed the official “it was an accident and we were on a trail” lie but this time it seems to no avail. Interestingly the video evidence of them killing the fox was shot by a bird watcher who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  District Judge Timothy Spruce said: “There is good and compelling evidence that the hunt was aware of the fox, but it appears there is no evidence that hounds were directed away.”

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The statement from the judge is quite interesting in that he saw that not calling the hounds off as intent, as opposed to catching the huntsman actively hunting the hounds on. This may have further reaching legal ramifications for future. Peter White was the terrier man and supposed trail layer for the hunt and was convicted purely for this basis proving once again if a hunt has terrier men then there is the intent to hunt a wild mammal. The 3 convicted are considering an appeal, but deep down even they will admit they are guilty with the appeal purely a face saving exercise and perhaps an attempt to get a more sympathetic judge. It’s just a shame the penalties aren’t much stiffer. Maybe some jail time if proved guilty would be more of a deterrent in the future.

 

It was pleasing to note that the Wildlife Crime Officer  and rider with the Belvoir Hunt (Sharon Roscoe) I reported on previously has stood down from her position. It would be nice to report that Leicestershire police had come to realise that her position was a clear conflict of interest and had removed her, however that isn’t the case. They maintained their support for her but public pressure on social media aimed directly at the officer seems to have had the desired effect. I cannot condone abuse and threats through any channel however public opinion on this matter was never going to let this abuse of power go unchallenged and while some of the methods are questionable the outcome is certainly the correct one.

My sources made me aware of this development during a meeting of the Leicestershire Police Ethics Committee and was confirmed by this tweet from the BBC’s Simon Hare:tweet

The claims that Roscoe hadn’t been a member of the hunt for some time are clearly questionable and my information is that members of her family are still heavily connected to the hunt.

Something which came to light while investigating this was, more worryingly the presence of another officer much further up the police food chain. A photograph from the Belvoir Hunt ball showed Roscoe with another officer, namely Lou Cordiner. Lou Cordiner is (or was) acting Chief Inspector and Area Commander for Leicestershire Eastern Counties. The image below is from a PDF published by Leicstershire Police which shows the rank of Cordiner.

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Here is the image of Sharon Roscoe (left) with Lou Cordiner (right) at the Belvoir Hunt ball in June 2013.

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OK that was two years ago I can hear you say but lets dig a little deeper and see what Cordiner has been up to more recently. Only at the beginning of the current hunting season it would appear Cordiner was present at an early morning cub hunting meet.

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While not actually in the picture she is mentioned by name by the person who posted the picture on their social media account. Now as you may know cubbing (or Autumn Hunting as the hunts like to call it) is where the hunts train their new hounds by killing fox cubs. There is no loop hole to be used in the Hunting Act for this. It’s about as illegal as you can get. No trails are followed, no birds of prey, no exemptions. Riders surround a covert and stop young foxes from leaving it. The hounds are then sent in to kill them. The poster of the update mentions the morning and you can clearly see by the photo that it is early by the mist in the background. You can also see the traditional ‘ratcatcher’ jackets worn by hunt riders when cubbing.

You have to ask yourself why a senior officer is involved with such an activity? The next question is what if this is just the time of the iceberg? How many law enforcement officials be they police officers or judges are actually involved with an organised criminal activity. You then start to realise why the policing of hunts is so one sided.

I’ve had a lot of contact with the police from various forces. Some are unquestionably honest and decent people just doing the best they can however in my experience the police overwhelmingly come down on the side of the hunts when in the field and an incident from only last weekend once again proved this.

The photo below was taken by Northants Hunt Sabs. It shows inspector Ian Caffel who is based at Weston Favell police station, Northampton. He encouraged hunt supporters to block the roads to prevent sabs from following the Woodland Pytchley hunt. He also witnessed an assault on a sab yet did nothing.

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When challenged he said’ ” I am not bothered about assaults. But I am bothered about aggravated trespass “. When asked if he was going to do anything about the illegal hunting he said “No but I will be making arrests for aggravated trespass “.

Clearly an officer should remain impartial and not decide which laws are going to be enforced and which ones ignored. This is typical of the disgraceful behaviour currently exhibited by some of our police.

A friend of mine who’s been involved with the negotiations with the police but never been in the fields always maintained that the reason sabs were always getting the raw end of the deal was because the hunts were the ones who always called the police. They were making the complaints so the police focused on the sabs because of this. A couple of weeks ago I tested this theory  although I didn’t really have to as I knew what the outcome would be. A member of our group called the police to report illegal hunting. It was blatant and we had plenty of video evidence to support our complaint.

Two hours later a single unit with two officers arrived, they refused to leave their vehicle and paid no interest in the hunt. They made attempts to gain our details and then tailed us when we left. We took them on a nice mystery tour of Bedfordshire before they got bored and buggered off. Compare that to a couple of weeks previous when the hunt called the police and they arrived with thirteen units and a helicopter.

I’m fairly certain that if all officers had to declare any connection with hunting or shooting or perhaps membership of the Countryside Alliance we’d see a significant number that participate and these officers whether intentionally or otherwise are influencing those around them and their behaviour to towards hunt monitors and sabs. Whether this is organised and pre-planned would be impossible to prove however there is no doubt there appears to be an institutionalised prejudice towards sabs and monitors.

I’d suggest the rabbit hole goes a very long way down indeed and you don’t need to be in Wonderland to realise the cause of this.