A senior police official has applied to the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFA) for information as to how to identify an illegal hunt once the ban comes into force on 18 February, indicating the level of confusion surrounding this issue.
In a letter to Alastair Jackson, Director of the MFA, Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo, police adviser on how to implement the act, sought advice and admitted that officers with responsibility for policing the ban will find it difficult to distinguish between illegal hunting with hounds and legal drag hunts.
“I would greatly welcome your assistance in any guidance I can give to police officers on how to identify the difference between [drag hunting and trial hunts] and fox hunting,” Mr Yeo asked.
In reply, Mr Jackson explained that while the MFHA will advise hunts on how they can continue to operate within the law until the ban is repealed, even experienced observers of hunting would have difficulties. “I would consider it almost impossible for anyone to know if a pack of hounds was hunting a fox or a drag. I do not envy you your job,” he said.
Darren Hughes, spokesman for the Countryside Alliance, said: “We have consistently warned the government that the Hunting Act is bad legislation and that it would be practically un-enforceable. It is preposterous that the government are forcing already overstretched police forces to waste extremely valuable resources implementing this ridiculous law.”