HSA news release 5th October 2005
After another protestor was arrested on Saturday, the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) is highlighting a concern that police forces are not only failing to enforce the Hunting Act, but are targetting anti-hunting activists who attend meets to monitor potential law breaking activity.
On Saturday 1 October 2005, a hunt protestor was arrested at the Essex and Suffolk Hunt after a meet at Ivy Tree Farm, Shelley near Hadleigh, Suffolk. The police allege an offence of Aggravated Trespass was committed. The 33-year old man from London claims he was not trespassing and was not disrupting the hunt. Aside from the facts of what took place, there are also questions to be raised about whether the activity taking place was in itself lawful.
Witnesses claim that the hunt were hunting foxes on the day. The same hunt killed a fox in a field of beet 2 weeks previously with police officers and protestors present. The protestor was released WITHOUT CHARGE three quarters of an hour after arriving at Ipswich police station and bailed to return at a future date.
HSA spokesperson Nathan Brown said "We have no interest in disrupting a hunt following a false trail. At the point that they start to pursue a fox or other wild mammal their activity is no longer lawful. If at this point we were to intervene and halt the proceedings we would not be in contravention of Aggravated Trespass law which requires the activity being allegedly disrupted to be lawful. In effect, by arresting anti-hunt protestors the police could be assisting the hunt to carry out an illegal activity. The majority of people in this country who supported a hunt ban will be outraged."
The HSA has also received reports that the police are using the Harassment Act to curtail the activities of anti-hunt monitors. Protestors claim they were warned by Dorset Police that if they waited at the kennels to follow the huntsman and hounds to the meet, they could be arrested under the Harassment Act. Meanwhile a report has been received that Wiltshire police have actually made an arrest of an anti-hunt protestor for an offence under the Harassment Act.
The HSA spokesperson commented: "To any normal person, this abuse of a law brought in to protect people from stalkers would seem ridiculous if it were not so outrageous. It seems like the police are clutching at straws in an attempt to prevent people from monitoring an illegal activity. The great irony is that the reason independent anti-hunt monitors have to attend hunts to gather evidence is because the Association of Chief Police Officers and individual forces have made it clear that they do not intend to enforce the ban themselves."
Mr. Brown added: "These are just a few instances, and we are sure that as the season unfolds there will be many more. We are also sure that some police forces will find themselves involved in costly civil actions for wrongful arrest."
On Saturday 17 September at the Crawley & Horsham Hunt in Sussex, when an anti-hunt protestor reported breaches of the Hunting Act, he was told by a policeman ON VIDEO that they weren't interested in enforcing the Hunt ban. Anti-hunt activists were attacked at the Crawley & Horsham during that day and were also attacked on 1 October.