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Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) director Alastair Jackson described a meeting last week with Thames Valley Police as “constructive”.

The meeting, between Mr Jackson and head of hunt policing for Thames Valley, Superintendent Graham Bell, took place on 24 April, after five requests from the MFHA.

Countryside Alliance (CA) communications director Tim Bonner was also present.

Mr Jackson said: “We were given assurances by Thames Valley about the policing of hunting and will work with them to improve co-operation between police and hunts.”

The relationship between Thames Valley and local hunts has been strained this season, fuelled by claims the force did nothing to stop anti-hunt groups using a gyrocopter for “monitoring” the Heythrop and Warwickshire in March despite repeated complaints from the hunts (news, 19 March).

At the same time, it emerged that Thames Valley had undergone “training” with the
League Against Cruel Sports and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) — a subject Supt Bell has refused to comment on to H&H.

But Mr Jackson said the meeting gave “an opportunity to explain the concerns of hunts operating in the Thames Valley area, and for the police to explain the difficulties they face in relation to policing animal rights activity”.

Mr Bonner said CA chairman Kate Hoey is due to meet with Assistant Chief Constable Brian Langston on 7 May.

“The CA and MFHA will be discussing everything with Thames Valley hunts after Ms Hoey’s meeting,” he told H&H.

This month it also emerged that Cumbria police trained with IFAW. Ms Hoey has written twice to Craig Mackey, the chief constable of Cumbria, but no meeting has yet been arranged.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (30 April, ’09)

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