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The hunting community has hit out at police for not taking complaints of harassment from hunt saboteurs more seriously.

Some 300 police officers were recently involved in an investigation into criminal activity associated with animal rights extremism — led by Hampshire Police and dubbed “Operation Achilles”.

The Countryside Alliance (CA) is now questioning why harassment of the hunting community is not taken more seriously.

CA spokesman Tim Bonner told H&H: “This is no criticism of one particular police force, but it’s rather assumed that harassment while hunting ‘will happen’ — it simply is not any more acceptable than any other form of harassment.”

Mr Bonner added that the CA is asking police to take harassment more seriously next season.

A Hampshire Police spokesman told H&H the force was satisfied that it properly engages with all parties — both supporters and hunt monitors.

The Crawley and Horsham hunt in West Sussex receives a lot of unwanted attention from hunt saboteurs.

Senior master Anthony Sandeman told H&H: “Various so-called ‘wildlife groups’ have been sending what I consider threatening and harassing letters to landowners and farmers alleging that illegal hunting has taken place on their land.Some landowners have received up to six letters from these people.

“It’s the same game [to that used by anti-vivisectionists] — if you can’t close the business, have a go at those that keep it going,” he said, adding: “I am sure the police will investigate these [letters] in the same way they have dealt with threats and harassment to ancilliary businesses connected to Huntingdon Life Science and other animal research establishments.”

Council of Hunting Associations (CHA) chairman Stephen Lambert urged hunts to continue discussions with police and said the CHA, CA and Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) were also communicating with police “centrally”.

He added: “There are clear cases of hunts being targeted with what equates
to harassment.”

  • The Countryside Alliance’s advice booklet, Hunting Handbook 2006-2007, Hunting without Harassment, can be downloaded free from www.countrysidealliance.org.uk or (tel: 020 7840 9200).

    This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (17 May, ’07)