In January it came to light that the new chair of the ‘College of Policing’, Nick Herbert, is also the current chair of the Countryside Alliance, a pro-hunt group who celebrate and campaign to preserve hunting.
‘From 1990 to 1996 Nick Herbert worked for the British Field Sports Society, becoming its Director of Political Affairs. In this role he played a leading role in setting up the Countryside Movement, which became the Countryside Alliance and which he now chairs’ (nickherbert.com)
Nick Herbert has a long-standing political career dating back years including being a conservative MP for over a decade and at one point serving as ‘Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under David Cameron's leadership’. He now chairs the College of Police and The Countryside Alliance- a stark conflict of interest.
The Countryside Alliance ‘campaign for the countryside, for rural communities and for hunting and shooting’. They are a campaign that put emphasis on promoting blood-sports, which they believe are the true rural way of life, and ensuring these so called ‘sports’ are not over-regulated i.e. they want to be left alone to kill wildlife in peace. As far as campaigns go- they lack class and logic, but they have a big pro-hunt following.
The College of Policing ‘is a professional body for everyone working across policing.’ The College aims to supply ‘information and support for front-line policing to provide consistency and a better service for the public.’ As we know, the Hunting Act bans the hunting of wild mammals with dogs in the UK.The Hunting Act is a law that was introduced in 2004. Laws are enforced by the Police. The College of Policing is a body that educates and set standards for areas of policing which subsequently is meant to contribute to better policing. The chair of the College of Policing should therefore (we would expect)at least be on the right side of the law. They should be concerned with the law, represent the law and promote better policing and legislation to protect the law.
Nick Herbert helped to set up a campaign that now promotes an industry that breaks the law. Before the Hunting Act came into play this was a different story, more a matter of ethics and divided opinion- now it is a matter of the law. The Countryside Alliance campaign to ensure the Hunting Act remains weak and hope it is one day repealed.
Nick Herberts' long history of association with the hunting world is easily found plastered over the internet. He founded the Newmarket Beagles in the 80’s and hunted with them for 14 seasons (which equates to 14 years of hunting foxes). Without even reading into it- the conflict of interest with his police-related appointed role is obvious,and we wonder who did who a favour appointing him as the chair despite his past?
In January 2020, Nick featured in the Horse and Hound Magazine. As well as describing the Countryside Alliance’s core mission as ‘promoting and defending hunting’, he goes on to say;
“One of the things I started communicating urgently when I took over the chair of the Alliance in October was the danger I thought we faced then, which was that the Labour Party was saying it would remove the exemptions on the Hunting Act and tighten it up in a way I think would have made going out with a pack of hounds and trail-hunting impossible. And I’m not sure everybody fully understood the grave danger we faced.”
Nick openly refers to the tightening of a law as ‘grave danger’. We would hope someone in any sort of police role would instead refer to the weakening or breaking of a law as‘grave danger’ and hold necessary impartiality. Nick has made his lack of impartiality very clear through his hunting affiliations and recent article for the Telegraph whereby he claims that anti-hunt individuals are balaclava wearing ‘extremists’.
His openly negative and bias opinions of those who campaign for the protection of wildlife and against wildlife crime are not the desired opinions of someone in a position of power, especially not the Police.