NATIONAL policing and legal issues surrounding the Hunting Act were the focus of attention at a special conference hosted by North Yorkshire Police recently.
Staged at the Royal York Hotel in York, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ event included guest speakers from the Crown Prosecution Service, International Fund for Animal Welfare, League Against Cruel Sports, Countryside Alliance and Masters of Foxhounds Association.
The delegates in attendance were policy makers and practitioners from forces and CPS from around the country that have responsibility for policing or prosecuting offences under the 2004 Hunting Act, which came into effect on 18 February 2005.
Hunting in England and Wales is a very emotive
ACC David Collins - North Yorkshire Police
The conference was opened by Assistant Chief Constable David Collins from North Yorkshire Police, who currently holds the ACPO portfolio for Rural Affairs. The audience also received a speech via video from Vernon Coaker MP, the Minister of State for Policing, Security and Crime.
ACC Collins said: “Hunting in England and Wales is a very emotive subject and those who are either pro or opposed to hunting are passionate about their subject. The guest speakers from all sides of the issue put their views across to the audience, and in turn were on hand to address the questions that were raised.
“I am hopeful that every person who attended came to understand and appreciated each others’ views on this subject, as we all had something to learn from each other.”
Robbie Marsland, Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare UK, said: "I would like to thank ACPO for organising this much-needed conference. It has provided a unique opportunity for animal welfare groups to share our experience and expertise with officers from across the country. IFAW looks forward to working constructively with police forces to ensure the Hunting Act is enforced."
Simon Hart, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: "The Countryside Alliance is working with ACPO and local police forces to ensure that the crucial relationship between rural people and their police is not threatened by the Hunting Act. The common sense approach of hunts and the police in the last three and a half years is a credit to both parties and has averted the worst predictions. We look forward to a time when both huntsmen and police officers will not have to judge what is legal hunting."
Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Crimes against wildlife are just as much a crime as any other and while we recognise that the police and the CPS take these matters seriously, we also recognise that a certain level of knowledge and expertise is required in order to ensure successful prosecutions. The League has this expertise and we have shown over the years since the Hunting Act came into force that we are prepared to use this to assist the police in bringing to justice those extremists who illegally hunt and kill animals with a total lack of regard for the law. Three years on though and enough is enough - it’s time to get tough with illegal hunters.”