Mob rule? We should act now to avoid it. During the recent ‘Cheshire Police’ debacle in which an independent consultancy who acknowledged they had no direct experience of hunting, animal welfare or the Hunting Act were contacted to produce a report that justified the local Police and Crime Commissioner’s anti hunt stance. A stance he wanted reflected in day to day force policy. Apparently at a loss on how to proceed the Report’s authors travelled the usual safe and well trodden path of the consultancy position; use research produced elsewhere that reflects the requirements of their end client. In this case however the approach may have left the client open to some unintended consequences as the authors used figures supplied by The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). These figures which revealed that in the 26 months covered by the LACS figures there were 44 incidents that might have led to a hearing in court. And at almost 2 a month that looks pretty bad doesn’t it? Yet, further data analysis shows that this equates to 0.0066% of incidents requiring a Police response in Cheshire over the same period.
Now we understand the desire of a Police and Crime Commissioner to want to look good, after all they have modern political ambitions. But surely to any reasonable person the use of resources to investigate alleged incidents involving registered hunting with hounds has to be justified, and the reality is that the figures demonstrate that despite the emotions the opponents of foxhunting in Cheshire protest too much? This view is given reinforcement when later in the document LACS’ own response to the Cheshire Police ‘report’ states “In summary, the Hunting Act might not be perfect, and clearly will not satisfy everyone, but it is workable and enforceable, however it is acknowledged there can often be challenges in securing sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.” Could this be an example of the old adage that ‘a politician hears what they want to hear, and then disregards the rest?’
Lack of evidence is not enough for Animal Rights vigilantes who much like spoilt toddlers ‘just know’ they’re right. SO THERE END OF! For example, a spokesperson found an outlet for their juvenile outrage regarding the lack of prosecutions in Cheshire reported as a serious news item, we think, by something called the Canary – a publication not known for it’s objectivity or grasp of even basic rural issues. “Yet again, we were unable to produce enough evidence to have this hunt in court” to the hunting act (sic) being written to protect these criminals rather than to achieve justice in court. But unfortunately, the local CPS, who are so poorly funded that many of them have to work from home and have no experience of hunting cases, have yet again felt they have to decline a strong case of lawbreaking.”
Taken at face value the statement is derisory and deserves to be ignored yet we do so at our peril as this emotion driven deceit is taking hold.
For example the phrase ‘produce enough evidence’ is revealing to the reasonable person who has seen news reports of the way that anti-democratic pressure groups behave- helped by extensive use of an editing suite tasked with manipulating facts to facilitate fabricating ‘just the right evidence’ and generate income via social media. An activity in which they have been engaging for a number of years and at which they have be virtually unchallenged. As a result of this vile kangaroo court the law and the much-valued concepts of evidence and justice are cast aside in an attempt to placate an audience that behaves just like the baying mob at the games in the Colosseum in Rome- wanting ‘justice’! Just as long as justice delivers the verdict they wanted. To counter this we must as a united body of field sports enthusiasts forget strategies built on late 20th century (or in some cases 19th century) thinking and have a robust 21st century response that is worthy of the name. Perhaps now is the time, with 4 out of the 5 conservative MP’s already jockeying for leadership having a grasp of why the purely political, prejudiced Hunting Act should be replaced by a regime of governance that is fit for purpose and avoids spurious allegations of illegal activity; without that, if we continue to indulge in in-fighting and traditional sectarian attitudes, we will only have ourselves to blame if our message continues to go unheard.