HSA news release 5th November 1994
Corby police today demonstrated their astonishing ignorance of the new Criminal Justice Act and total disregard for wasting public money in a bizarre operation involving over 30 police officers and several fire brigade personnel at the Woodland Pytchley Foxhunt at Stoke Albany, near Market Harborough.
Some twenty hunt saboteurs from Cambridge, Leicester, and Northants started the day with a peaceful blockade of the hunt’s kennels, delaying them for over an hour. Corby police, keen to demonstrate their incompetence from the start, threatened saboteurs with arrest until they were shown a copy of the Criminal Justice Act and asked to point out which section was being breached. They were unable to do so and made no arrests. During the discussion saboteurs were delighted to see the hunt meet clearly marked on a map the inspector was holding.
At the hunt, saboteurs used public rights of way to keep up with the hunt and there was no trouble until twenty minutes after the hunt had set off, less than a mile from the meet when a collective fit of lunacy afflicted Corby police. At this point saboteurs had not attempted to take any action while the hunt were in the field but the police decided to make arrests regardless. There had been no trouble and indeed five minutes earlier a top-hatted hunter had told saboteurs “Of course, you’re perfectly welcome to stay on the footpath”.
A saboteur crossing a stile next to a footpath marker was dragged off by a police officer who grabbed him from behind and arrested him, failing not only to warn him but also to inform him of what he was being arrested for. A fellow saboteur who attempted to speak to him was also arrested. Neither were trespassing and neither had been warned, making any charge of aggravated trespass ludicrous.
An hour later three saboteurs were confronted by a group of hostile police officers and sought refuge in a tree. In a bid not to be outdone by their colleagues’ ludicrous behaviour, the officers present called in the fire brigade who obviously would have little else to do on Guy Fawkes’ Day than retrieve peaceful protesters from trees. The police insisted the fire officers build scaffolding for them to climb up and arrest the by now somewhat bemused saboteurs.
All five have been charged with aggravated trespass under section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and have announced they will fight the cases vigorously. It is quite apparent that Corby police neither understand nor are capable of implementing the new law. We have long predicted that the Criminal Justice Act would be unworkable and unenforceable and would cause more problems for the police than it would for peaceful protesters who only wish to save hunted animals. Today’s farce only serves to prove us right.