In recently leaked minutes from the Hunting Office, those running hunting in the UK detail money set aside specifically to gain power and influence over police forces.
The Hunting Office are well connected and well funded, and are funnelling money into the campaigns of hunters and hunt supporters who want to become Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).
PCCs are a little-known but influential role, and hunters know how important they can be for – or against – blood sports.
Sabs were already aware of avid animal killers such as Jonathon Seed in Wiltshire running for PCC, but the leaked confirmation that it’s a concerted campaign to get hunters into PCC roles nationwide got us searching for more.
Since then we have asked candidates around the country their views on hunting, and many of the responses are telling. Candidates courting the “country set”, such as Rupert Matthews for Leicestershire, use vague and ambiguous wording to mislead their potential voters. “Fox hunting is illegal anyway”, they say, hoping you won’t notice the deliberate omission of opinion on the fact it still happens daily nationwide during the hunting season.
Alison Hernandez in Devon and Cornwall is another; she currently holds the role of PCC and is running again. Sabs in the South West have noted her bias against them and, if she is voted in again as part of an effort to promote hunting, this bias is likely to become more apparent.
Why does this matter to sabs?
PCCs set the agenda for police forces, they pick and choose what the priorities for policing should be, they choose the chief constable, and they hold the police budget.
Anyone who has evidence of illegal hunting already struggles to get convictions, this becomes nigh on impossible with a police force which is actively against you.
Sabs who choose not to engage with the police are also affected. The red-faced redcoat candidate Jonathon Seed has openly said he intends to direct police resources at those “interfering in lawful country pursuits”. He means he intends to use the police to harass sabs and anyone else who questions those killing animals for fun.
Of course, we aren’t taking this lying down. During lockdown many groups have turned our attentions to campaigning hard. Huntsman Seed has found his campaign mired in controversy: local news articles, social media outcry, door-to-door leafletting of his constituents and graffiti about his love of killing. The campaign has snowballed from a couple of local sab groups shouting about it to national groups getting involved and amplifying the information we are putting out there.
What can you do?
If you don’t know your candidates views, ask them. Watch out for deceitful language, we want outright condemnation of the smokescreen that is trail hunting, “hunting is illegal” doesn’t cut it.
If you want your candidates’ contact details, or images made against particular candidates, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you get responses, let your local sab group know. We don’t have much time but we will campaign until Election Day (Thursday 6th May 2021). If you’ve got a pro hunt candidate in your area, shout about it! Tell people not to vote for them, take to social media, put posters up, any creative ideas to get the message out there are appreciated.
Remember, everyone can be a campaigner – three or four emails to candidates and you’re halfway there already!