Police across the UK are renowned for allowing illegal fox and stag hunting to take place. It’s common knowledge to hunt saboteurs that the police ignore the hunting that goes on under their noses, instead turning their attention towards the activists on the ground who are trying save foxes. There's countless footage all over the internet, posted by hunt sabs, of foxes being mauled to death, and of stags being chased down. Very occasionally, hunt staff end up in court, but more often than not, they get away with murder.
And so it is welcome news that the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, will conduct an independent review into the policing of hunts in his area.
And now it has been announced that a team from Wrexham Glyndwr University will undertake the review. Professor Iolo Madoc-Jones, one of the team’s researchers, said:
“The team are experienced in examining aspects of practice in that system and will work to the highest standards of academic integrity to ensure their conclusions and any recommendations they make are evidence based.”
It should come as no surprise that the Countryside Alliance (CA) has accused Dunbobbin of wasting valuable money, saying that the Labour PCC is prejudiced against “rural people”. The CA seemingly has an exaggerated opinion on quite how many “rural people” — as opposed to rich Tory people — take part in fox hunting.
If we take a look at North Wales police’s bias, it is, perhaps, no wonder that the CA and the pro-hunt lobby are vehemently against an independent review into the force.
North Wales Hunt Sabs has reported on the continued police bias over the years. Back in 2018, the sabs reported:
“The [police have] no interest in keeping watch over the illegal hunt that’s about to take place. In fact the police go beyond staying neutral and actually assist the criminals of the hunt by stopping traffic to help the hunt cross the roads. There is no such thing as police cutbacks when it comes to protecting the hunt.”
Fast forward to the 2021-22 hunting season, and the sabs stated:
“on numerous occasions we did catch [the Flint and Denbigh Hunt] red handed on camera illegal hunting foxes. We’ve submitted countless examples of illegal fox hunting to North Wales Police.”
In November 2021, the sabs gave an account of the policing of one of the Flint and Denbigh Hunt’s meets. They said:
“Today was one of those day[s] where they’d sent out the pro hunt cops, all too keen to assist in illegal fox hunting. PC Jones explaining to us that the rural crime team had been out this morning (an hour before the hunt had set off) and witnessed the “trails” being laid…. it’s like the police are pretending the leaked webinar doesn’t exist, it’s like they haven’t seen the guilty verdict proving “trail hunting” to be a smokescreen sham and fiction.”
“Strangely enough we had sabs out to observe the ‘trail laying’ all morning and we can honestly say the “trail layers” rode along roads with a rag on a piece of string occasionally dropping it on the road, leaving massive gaps between the lines, nowhere near where the hunt went and without a rural crime team officer in sight?”
It remains to be seen how the Glyndwr research team will conduct their work, and whether it will truly conduct it without bias. But it will be hard-pushed to ignore the numerous reports that have been documented by the sabs.
And it will certainly need to examine incidents such as the killing of a fox by Flint and Denbigh Hunt in November 2021. At the time, North Wales sabs tweeted a photo of the hunt’s whipper-in trying to wrestle the lifeless body of the fox from a sab, after the animal was murdered by the hunt.
The sabs stated that the Flint and Denbigh was:
“Blatantly and deliberately hunting foxes right in front of us and our cameras.”
2021 and 2022 has seen life get much more difficult for hunts across the country. Various big land owners have now permanently banned trail hunting, while the high-profile court case of top hunter Mark Hankinson has put fox hunting under the national spotlight again. This independent review into the policing of hunts in North Wales will be the last thing that the pro-hunt lobby will want, and it is certain that they will do all that they can to discredit the findings.
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