The hunting community is demanding that “hunt monitors” are stopped in their tracks following the alleged murder of a dedicated hunting man in Warwickshire last week.
The relationship between groups opposed to hunting and Thames Valley Police is also being called into question.
“Because of the antis, one of our most dedicated supporters has been killed — we’re choking on it. It is completely unacceptable,” said Warwickshire joint-master Sam Butler.
“They stick their cameras in the faces of people, young and old, who are going about their lawful business. It’s serious provocation. It’s rude, uncivilised and aggressive.”
The Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and Countryside Alliance (CA) have requested urgent meetings with senior police officers across the country and with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
“The hunting world supports and respects the police, but we’re confused by their strategy because they appear to be at least as interested, if not more so, in the so-called hunt monitors,” said MFHA chairman Stephen Lambert.
“They give far too much credibility to a small group of people who are, frankly, fanatical anti-hunters who have very little interest in animal welfare. They are totally obsessed — and prepared to cross any boundaries.”
Between November and March, MFHA director Alastair Jackson has written to Superintendent Graham Bell, head of hunt policing for Thames Valley, on five different occasions, requesting a meeting to discuss policy towards policing monitors and hunts.
“Rightly or wrongly, Thames Valley is perceived as less helpful than other police forces when it comes to matters involving the Hunting Act,” wrote Mr Jackson on 16 February, specifically requesting, for the fourth time, a meeting with Supt Bell.
Thames Valley Police declined to comment on Monday because Supt Bell was off duty.
Read this news story in full, plus a tribute to Trevor Morse, Julian Barnfield’s thoughts on hunt monitors, a look back at how saboterus became monitors, a guide to who’s who in hunt monitoring, and a straw poll of opinion about hunt monitoring on London’s streets, in the current issue of Horse & Hound (19 March, ’09)