Call to repeal fox hunting ban

Police in Shropshire and Mid Wales have never cautioned, proceeded against or fined anybody under controversial fox hunting legislation since it came in, rural campaigners claimed today.

Police in Shropshire and Mid Wales have never cautioned, proceeded against or fined anybody under controversial fox hunting legislation since it came in, rural campaigners claimed today.

The Countryside Alliance said it believes the Hunting Act should now be repealed because it has seldom been used since it came into force in 2005 and shows police time is 'wasted by the unworkable and misdirected Hunting Act'.

The figures were provided to campaigners by the Ministry of Justice for police forces in England and Wales.

They show people associated with hunts registered with the Council of Hunting Associations, the body representing more than 330 hunts and over more than 70 clubs, have rarely been cautioned, proceeded against in court, fined or convicted under the act.

The campaigners' figures for traditional hunting areas like Shropshire and Powys suggest West Mercia Police and Dyfed-Powys Police have never fined, cautioned or prosecuted anyone in court using the legislation.

Toby Shergold, West Mercia Police spokesman said today: "As the Countryside Alliance report is targeting the Hunting Act, we do not think it is suitable for the police to comment on what is a political issue."

No-one was available from Dyfed-Powys Police.

Nationwide, the key findings of the report suggest 97 per cent of convictions since the Hunting Act came into force relate to poaching or other casual hunting activities, including at least seven people who have been convicted of hunting rats.

And since 2005, 12 police forces covering hunt areas, including Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire, Bedfordshire, Dorset and South Wales, have not issued a single caution, and have not proceeded against, fined or convicted any individual associated with a registered hunt.

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: "With the opening meets of the hunting season just around the corner, these statistics are a damning indictment of the expensive and failed Hunting Act.

"As a piece of legislation it is has been condemned widely – including by those who created it, yet law-abiding hunts are still forced to go about their daily lives under the threat of harassment and intimidation from saboteurs who then waste police time pursuing cases that never see the light of day.

"The evidence is now overwhelming: the Hunting Act must be repealed."

By Tom Johannsen

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