Posts Tagged ‘Steve Harris’

You may remember that some time ago I suspected a senior member of the local police was a rider with the Oakley hunt (see here). To recap, my suspicions were aroused when multiple units would attend a fox hunt and sometimes even the police helicopter. What you have to remember is that this is from a county where police funding is critically poor and has the large urban conurbation of Luton to police. So how do they justify all this expense, clearly someone was pulling some strings.

I then did some digging on one of the new masters of the Oakley and turned up this little beauty (see here). Now I try not to tar everyone or organisations with the same brush. I like to take people as I find them and reserve judgement on their actions rather than words so consider myself fairly even handed when dealing with the boys and girls in blue. Cambridgeshire police have certainly come up trumps in their investigation of the Fitzwilliam and my experience of them in the field has been generally positive. With this in mind we’ve had a continued dialogue and meetings with representatives from all 3 local forces, Beds, Herts and Cambs.

In a recent email to the Bedfordshire area commander outlining some concerns I had for the coming hunting seasons, he informed me that he had passed on the policing of hunting to our wildlife liaison offer and had also passed on my correspondence. Now that seemed fair, hunting would certainly be covered by that officers remit however straight away the name he gave me started to ring some bells – Inspector Tracey Day.

I know our local badger group had made several complaints to her regarding badger persecution and little had been done but that wasn’t what was making my spider senses tingle, it was something else. It then dawned on me – remember this picture from a blog post a few weeks ago?

beds police equine team

Pictured here is Steve Harris, now a master of the Oakley, also in the picture is Inspector Tracey Day. So straight away we have a link between a master of the hunt and a serving police officer. Not much there though I guess but a little further digging turned up little snippet from the Bedfordshire On Sunday.

press-cutting

So Tracey clearly has links to the Oakley going back a very long time indeed. It’s well know that hunts have Pony Club sections to encourage youngsters to start hunting, that is indeed their sole purpose. Are to we safely assume then that Tracey hunts with the Oakley? I checked all my previous video and while the images of the person riding are inconclusive I sent some pictures to a horse expert friend of mine and she’s 90-95% sure the horse is the same as one that Tracey rides (not the one shown below). Whether she does or not I believe there is enough of an association to be a conflict of interest and she certainly shouldn’t be responsible for policing of hunts within the country. I outlined this potential conflict in another email to the area commander and he had informed me that the matter had been pushed further up the chain of command. I’m currently waiting to see what develops.

tracey-day

Inspector Tracey Day with one of her horses (2010).

One interesting little point to note is that Bedfordshire police don’t seem to regard illegal hunting with hounds as any concern. Their priorities regarding wildlife crime can be found here. There is no mention whatsoever of the hunting act and yet coursing and poaching are listed. One has to wonder why this is the case but I’m fairly sure we can all make our own minds up. Perhaps you should contact the Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire and ask for their policy on hunting and if she thinks there’s a conflict of interest occurring here. Kathryn Holloway can be contacted on 01234 842064 or email pcc@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk

Let me know if you get any response.

UPDATE: I’ve just been contacted by the Chief Inspector and we shall discuss matters tomorrow. Lets see what transpires.

During a quiet moment the other day I decided to have a snoop on-line and see what our local hunt (the Oakley Hounds) had been up to. There’s been big changes there recently, the huntsman (Bill Bishop) left to go to the West Norfolk Foxhounds, the Whipper-in (Aiden Beaney) disappeared into thin air (or maybe up his own arse) and there was a new batch of Masters. Guy Napier with whom I spoke with last season (see here) is no longer a master, so alongside the constant gruesome twosome of Lydia Thompson and Caroline Evans we have new masters, Nikki Lightfoot and Steve Harris.

We have our suspicions as to why there have been these musical chairs within the organisation and no doubt more will come to light in due course however we’re fairly certain that all is not particularly well at the Oakley, so we’re obviously quite happy about that. However that’s not the point of this blog entry.

steve harris 2

Pre-hunt tipple.

I decided to check out the new masters and my first port of call was this Steve Harris character as he was the only male in the group. A quick search led me to his Facebook profile. Now Facebook is a resource which just keeps on giving, no doubt the authorities use it in much the same manner as all sorts of interesting information can be gleaned from someone’s profile. He’s a face we recognise as a regular on hunt days so no real surprises there and his photo’s show the standard hunting pictures, action shots proclaiming their horsemanship and prowess in the saddle, you know the standard thing these types all like to show. But hello, whats all this then?

Yup, here is a picture of Steve in all his . . . police riding regalia.

steve harris hunting

Lets have a bit more of a dig I thought. Another search reveals he was part of the Bedfordshire Police Equine team back in 2012 where he is described as a ‘Detention Officer’. They did quite well in the competition they entered apparently, although one comment below the story suggested the police would do better spending their money on catching criminals as opposed to jollies  on horses, anyway I digress.

beds police equine team.jpg

Back to Facebook and another interesting update on his timeline. Here we have a serving (at the time) police officer, quite openly admitting to cubbing* and wearing the prefferred cub hunting dress of a ‘ratcatcher’ jacket (see below). I’ve covered similar incidents before (see here) but to be so blatant just goes to  show the level of arrogance of these people. Steve seems to think that him being the law means he’s above it, except of course he isn’t. Next to the picture of him in his police uniform he comments; ” . . . lots of hunting, just like the good old days”.  Would that be the old days when it was legal to kill foxes with hounds for fun then? The ban had been in place for over 7 years when he wrote that so once again he’s admitting to committing a crime or at the very least being an accessory.

steve harris cubbing.jpg

I have a meeting in a couple of weeks with our local law enforcement people and it’ll be something I shall raise in the conversation. Perhaps Steve’s influence may have been a factor in the type of biased response the hunts would get when they called the police? So far the meetings I’ve had have been quite cordial and beneficial to all parties and I hope headway is being made with regards to the improvement in policing of hunting but as I’ve said before I would be very interested to know how many serving officers are members of the Countryside Alliance or hunters themselves. There could be a clear conflict of interest if these officers were responding to claims of illegal hunting. I believe Steve Harris in no longer a serving officer, he’s now listed as a director of FAS Paper Bedding but the fact still remains he was a police officer openly taking part in an illegal activity and bragging about it and that is simply not acceptable.

Additional: It has been pointed out that Detention Officers are support staff and not regular police officers, which further begs the question, why is he appearing to be in public wearing a police uniform?

*Cubbing or Autumn hunting is where the hunts train their new hounds to kill by holding up (surrounding) coverts and blocking the escape of young foxes and then sending in the hounds to kill them so they get the taste for fox and learn what they are supposed to do. Hounds which show no desire to kill or make the wrong noises are destroyed.