Posts Tagged ‘West Mercia Police’

I’ve been a bit quiet recently but I make no apologies for that, it’s a busy time of year for everyone but add on the responsibility of the continued fight against the wildlife abusers and time becomes very tight indeed. But like the TV other other media outlets I thought I’d have a look back over the year to see how things have progressed and I might even make a few predictions for the future. So how did 2019 go?

In January the big story was the release of the video which showed the Kimblewick‘s terrier man and Chairman, Ian Parkinson and Mark Vincent dragging a fox from an artificial earth and throwing it in front of the hounds. The case would finally get to court a full 11 months later where both were found guilty and given suspended jail sentences. (full story here).

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February saw the Thurlow trial delayed once again, much to the frustration of all concerned however the reason was just a sick judge and not so-called Countryside Alliance skullduggery.

March saw us finally in court for the Thurlow trial and after 3 days we secured the conviction we were after. (Full story here). That wasn’t the end of the case however. As expected they appealed the conviction (as hunts always do) so it would be another date in court later in the year.

Speaking of appeals it was the end of April and we were back in court once again for the Fitzwilliam case. There was the addition of the highly questionable “expert witness” from the defence team but he proved worthless in the grand scheme of things and once again we won another hard fought victory (see here). Although the sentence was pathetic it was a huge moral victory over a hunt which remember spent over £120,000 on a worthless injunction in an effort to hide their criminal activities.

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Guilty – Ex Fitzwilliam Huntsam George Adams

The South Herefordshire Hunt case finally reached a conclusion and some highly questionable practices by West Mercia Police were also to come under the spotlight in an effort to scupper any further legal proceedings (full story here). As expected the hunting side made some rather pathetic noises in their defence but without doubt the tide would appear to be turning.

In June I received the written ruling on the Fitzwilliam case (see here). I was hoping this would effectively mean the end of hunts using the Bird of Prey Exemption within the Hunting Act. The ruling and the definitions within it were very clear but it seems some hunts are still claiming exempt hunting by parading a bird of prey around and even though it should be much easier to prove illegal hunting the authorities seem somewhat reluctant to get involved.  It should be very easy to stop this, remember any pursuit of the quarry by the hounds is illegal once that animal is flushed, and yet it’s still going on.

Big changes seemed to be taking place within the hunting hierarchy, something I picked up on last August with Lord Mancroft seemingly at odds with the rest of the CA’s top brass. Any internal disagreement in the hunting fraternity was obviously good news as far as I was concerned.

As we moved into autumn the cubbing season started but also the NFU and Government’s badger eradication policy. This blog started with the badger culls and it’s an absolute disgrace that after all this time it’s still going on. The fight continues.

In October we were in court once again for the Thurlow appeal although that had some unexpected twists in the tail. Although the pompous little Archie Clifton-Brown got off his assault charge we secured the conviction for the hunting act case against Chris Amatt after he did a deal with the prosecution, something we were only too happy to agree to and for the first time in several years I was free from outstanding legal proceedings (full story here). Archie is still knocking about with his Uncle Vesty at the Thurlow, although now he seems to have his own security wannabe in tow. I wonder what he’s scared of?

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Archie dressed as an old man. Photo courtesy of Suffolk & Essex Sabs

As mentioned earlier the Kimblewick were in court in November and we all had a good laugh at a rather pathetic attempt by the CA to show trail hunting and make some frankly daft claims against sabs. I took this apart and for some reason the video produced by the hunt side was also taken down. Obviously they were pretty embarrassed by it but you’d have thought they’d have looked at it properly before splashing it all over social media (see here).

And that was pretty much it.

In the fields hunts are still killing foxes and they are largely still getting away with it however the successes in the courts over the past year have proved that they are certainly not having everything their own way. While the election result was disappointing it will not change anything from my perspective. It’s still very much business as usual and the same can be said for all the wildlife protectors out there. What I think is important is that even now the hunting community accept they are on a downward spiral and are trying desperately to maintain their cruel way of life. After a fabulously concerted campaign by West Midlands Hunt Sabs the Atherston went to the wall taking a beagle pack with it. Hunt attendances are down despite claims to the contrary and even the Government accepts that hunting is a toxic issue as there is no mention of a repeal of the act in their plans for the future. Having said that Boris is a pathological liar and he’s appointed ex-CA attack dog Simon Hart to the cabinet as minister for Wales.

Hunting isn’t going away any time soon. However I can see more mergers of hunts in the future as hunt country becomes scarcer and attendances drop. They may try and paint this as a win but ultimately it’ll be one less pack of hounds marauding around the countryside. Remember the Kimblewick are an amalgamation of 4 hunts. I also have a feeling a pack very local to me is in some serious trouble and we’ll be doing our very best to help it along the way and consign it to history.

So that just leaves me to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and I’ll update you with all the action over the festive period in due course. Why not get out there on Boxing Day and find your local hunt demo and voice you opinion against them. A list can be found (here). There’s also one for the Kimblewick, details here.

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I’ve been kinda lazy recently in the writing department but if you’re a regular reader you’d have guessed that already. I’ve been kinda busy at work and I’d also had a week away on holiday north of the border which was nice as for once the weather up there was a lot better than down south, plus I got climb a mountain which isn’t something you get to do very often.

While I was away the case of the South Herefordshire Hunt fox cub killers finally reached it’s conclusion. Here was a case that had been dragging on as long as my own one against the Fitzwilliam but for very different reasons. The Hunt Investigation Team had secured some very damning evidence against the accused and it did finally get to court although it has now come to light that the reasons behind the delays were insidious to say the least.

There was a concerted effort by some individuals within West Mercia Police to make sure those responsible for the heinous crimes against those fox cubs would never see the inside of a court room. Follow this link for a personal account by Jane Barradale-Smith who is the wife of the officer who received the bodies of the dead foxes.

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The highly questionable warrant issued to search premises

The case was very widely reported in the national press and TV with the main focus not just on the convictions but the totally laughable sentences handed out with probably the best article in the Independent. It’s a sad indictment of our legal system that the people responsible avoided a custodial sentence and were in fact not even banned from keeping animals in the future. This is no deterrent at all and another reason in a long list that we need a complete overhaul of sentencing options for hunting and animal cruelty offences along with judges who are prepared to give the maximum sentences where appropriate.

The so-called Countryside Alliance had kept very tight lipped over the whole affair but once the guilty verdicts was announced they were forced into making a statement and it was predictable to say the least.

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This is of course a load of unmitigated clap trap. Dim Bonner knows full well this isn’t a case of “Bad Apples”, as far as he’s concerned (and no doubt many other hunts around the country) the stupidity he’s referring to is simply that they got caught. This kind of thing is nothing new. Hunts have always historically provided foxes to be hunted and have no doubt been involved in similar activities to the SHH since hunting with hounds began. Lets not forget the Belvoir Hunt had a fox kept in an outbuilding ready to be hunted, a member to the Fitzwilliam was convicted of keeping a fox in a barrel  and last NYD the Kimblewick were filmed dragging a fox from a false earth and throwing it in front of the hounds (which we’ve heard nothing from Thames Valley Police about since).

Speaking of bad apples, below is the statement from a the This is Hunting UK  facebook page.

Statement

Pfft, “untypical” my arse. It’s all very well and good claiming they have nothing to hide but kennel open days are nothing more than promotional stunts designed to encourage more people to come hunting and they certainly won’t get to see what really goes on behind the scenes. If they really want to be open about what they do just publish the meets along with trail maps so we can all go along and watch them follow these mythical trails. Maybe we can ride with a terrier man and ask him what the terriers are for if the hunt is genuinely following a trail and do they really get that much dust up their noses while mending fences that they need to keep their faces covered. And we haven’t even mentioned “Autumn Hunting” (cubbing) yet.

Nothing whatsoever to hide?

What an absolute load of bollox.

SHH images courtesy of HIT.

It never ceases to amaze me the levels to which a certain sector of our society will stoop in an effort to continue with what they see are their right to hunt regardless of the law. It really shouldn’t surprise me I guess, I’m long enough in the tooth now to know a little of the mind-set of these people but I guess their ideals are so alien to my own and people like me that I’ll never accept even a tiny bit of it.

Once again there was an operation organised by several sab groups against another illegal mink hunt, this time our target was the Three Counties Mink Hounds however as it turned out we got two for the price of one with a joint meet including the Teme Valley Minks Hounds from which I’m sure you’ll remember the large expense incurred by West Mercia Police for the helicopter and multiple ground units. It was also the same day a sab was threatened with a knife.

Irony overload

Irony overload

Once again the police turned out in force (this time it was Warwickshire), complete with riot van, two separate dog units, multiple cars and even the helicopter made an appearance although only stayed for a mere 15 minutes or so. The big guy who threatened the sab with the knife was once again in attendance (wearing the same clothes – I wonder if he has a change as they must stink a bit by now?) and this time upped the ante by threatening him with a shotgun he had in his car. All this while standing next to a police officer. But it was OK apparently because he was a friend. I’m pretty sure had the roles been reversed someone would have been arrested and locked up pretty swiftly. Nice to know where you stand on these matters.

The land owner frothed at the mouth and was very hostile while others wanted to use their own children as a human shield in the false belief we couldn’t film their actions with them there. Aren’t they just wonderful examples of compassion and honour! Once again we stopped their little games despite their best efforts and attempts at subterfuge. Watch the video; I think you’ll enjoy it.

You may remember my blog entry from a few weeks ago regarding a Freedom of Information Request to West Mercia Police after they deployed significant resources to protect an illegal Mink Hunt (see here). I also suggested it may be a good idea to contact West Mercia and get them to explain themselves and that’s exactly what some of you did, so thanks to those who took the time and effort there. One particular query and response was forwarded to MorethanjustBadgers and I’d like to address the explanation given by West Mercia Police.

First of all the question was asked:

Why, may I ask are you spending all this money protecting people who are committing a crime? If you actually advised those hunting illegally that they would be arrested and charged perhaps they would then stop of their own accord. Thus those people who try to stop the illegal activity would not need to do so and your police force would not have to waste taxpayers time and money assisting criminals.

This is not the first time your police force has spent taxpayer’s money on enabling illegal hunting to continue. I fail to understand why your force allows these people to keep carrying out illegal acts and protects them whilst they are doing so.

And the Response:

As per our initial response, we must again re-alliterate that no police resources were pre-assigned to this hunting event, resources were only allocated in response to calls received from concerned members of the public (1). Whenever a call is received from a member of the public asking for police assistance, a dynamic risk assessment is applied and a decision made as to whether to send resources at all and if so, how many and of what type. Often, the decision maker around that allocation has to act on a partial picture of events on the ground based on incomplete and sometimes conflicting information (2).

Once resources arrived at the scene, a further assessment will take place as to what has happened, whether any offences have taken place and if there is a need for continuing police or partner agency involvement. Needless to say the more complex and involved the incident, and therefore require a longer police presence to complete a full assessment. The costs released in the freedom of information act request represent the time incurred by those units deployed to this incident, through until such time as they were released to other duties (3).

In incidents of this nature, the police are often faced by conflicting version of events from those present. They have to act based on what can be assessed at the time, and in the area of public protest, strike a proportionate balance between ensuring those who wish to go about their lawful activities may do so, while also ensuring those who wish to legally protest may also do so (4).

The police service does not enable illegal activity, nor protect those who engage in such activity. Where there is evidence of offences having been committed, we will conduct a proportionate investigation, but such allegations must be evidence based (5).

Let’s address these in order.

(1) As noted in my previous blog entry the police were not called by a concerned “member of the public” but in fact they were called by the hunt themselves. Although they could be perceived as members of the public they clearly have a vested interest in the outcome of the proceedings and will have no doubt painted a somewhat distorted picture of what was really going on.

(2) So the police openly admit they had little idea of what was going on and yet decided in very quick fashion to deploy multiple units as well as closing down a section of the town centre causing significant disruption to the local community and the justifying the cost of putting the helicopter on the scene. I would suggest whoever carried out their dynamic risk assessment may have overreacted.

(3) Once they had these multiple units in place it seems they were still unable to deduce who the criminals really were (threats of violence using a knife where made against a sab at the scene and captured on video). Perhaps it was a quiet day in that part of the country and very little crime taking place elsewhere as 10 vehicles and a helicopter would certainly seem to be overkill, perhaps they all fancied some action, not that there was any, we’re a non-violent direct action group although will defend ourselves if required.

(4) Well of course there was conflicting reports however there is one singular event which negates the rest of this part of the statement. We weren’t protesting and the hunt weren’t going about their lawful business. We were there to stop illegal hunting as we have a right to do and the hunt was hunting illegally. The hunter who called the police openly admitted to hunting in contravention of the Hunting Act. Police calls are routinely recorded so they could have referred back to the conversation and yet chose to ignore this information. We often have the police claim that the hunting act is a matter of personal choice, a conflict of morality and tradition which they won’t get involved with but let’s make things clear here. The Hunting Act 2004 is a fully endorsed piece of legislation supported by over 80% of the population and they are required to enforce that legislation as required by the law of the land. Now I’m not suggesting there was enough evidence in this instance to proceed with a prosecution however spending that amount of tax payer’s money on the protection of the hunt is certainly a kick in the teeth for anyone with a shred of decency and a concern for animal welfare.

(5) Well, pardon me if I’m wrong but you just did. An admittance of guilt is evidence of sorts and while the other evidence was largely circumstantial it was pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain what was going on. This statement just suggests that unless you have damming evidence of killing, undeniable proof of unlawful activity we’re really not interested, although we’re interested enough to deploy a helicopter, 10 cars and spend a shed load of cash. Surely a more proportionate response would have been a little less extreme and one sided. The police are without doubt severely blinkered on this issue.

It’s a funny old world we live in. Except I’m not laughing.

Thanks to the reader who supplied me with all the information, it is appreciated.