Campaign against ‘intimidating’ masked animal rights activists builds momentum

  • An e-campaign by the Countryside Alliance (CA) to highlight the issue of masked animal rights activists has resulted in more than 8,000 people writing to their local police crime commissioners (PCC).

    The two-week drive came after several incidents — including one violent — with anti-hunting campaigners.

    Last month (24 January) joint-master and huntsman Mike Lane was left with two fractured teeth and concussion following a clash between hunt saboteurs and members of the Tedworth.

    The CA has thanked the people that took part and sent letters to their PCC.

    “Their support has made this a very successful campaign and shows the strength of feeling the countryside has about saboteur violence,” said the CA’s Tim Bonner.

    The CA has had 20 responses from PCCs across the country as a result of the letters.

    Anthony Stansfeld, PCC for Thames Valley Police, said he was concerned by any “intimidation in the countryside”.

    “I agree that the wearing of balaclavas and facemasks, allied with paramilitary style clothing, is clearly intended to intimidate as well as hide the identity of violent protestors,” he added.

    Martin Surl, PCC for Gloucestershire said: “I have concerns about the wearing of balaclavas and facemasks in the countryside and have already made public my support for a change in the law.”

    However, some of the PCC’s responses have been less positive. More than 700 people from Sussex wrote to their PCC, but the written reply did not touch on the issue.

    “The response from the PCCs has been mixed, with some taking the issue very seriously and others seemingly not interested,” Mr Bonner added.

    “We shall be following up the issue with the police forces involved and it is clear that we need to work with them and the next government to ensure the legislation surrounding face coverings is fit for purpose.”

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