(2) Before I begin….

Prelude………

Until I joined West Mercia Police, I knew very little about hunting. While growing up in Chipping Norton I worked at The Fox Hotel washing pots and polishing the floors. On Boxing Day the hunt would meet at the entrance to the hotel and we would take sherry out to the riders before they all trotted off along West Street and up the Burford Road.

I think that’s how probably most people thought of the hunt, smartly dressed posh people parading on a special day. It was part of Christmas.

I have to admit, as a police officer The Hunting Act in 2004 came in and completely passed me by. I was not aware of any of my local hunts in my area of Surrey (Egham). We were given no training or input about the act and so I had no idea of the implications of it.

It was probably only about 8 or 9years ago that I first had to even think about it. There were more and more instances of hunts phoning to report problems with ‘anti’s’, ‘sabs’ or ‘animal rights activists’. We, (front line police) would be sent out to see what was happening. We were told to report back details of vehicles and occupants that we obtained. These would then be looked at by Special Branch. (SPECIAL BRANCH)?

Complaints from the hunt ‘monitors’ about illegal hunting would be lucky to get a uniformed constable, (who knew nothing/zero/zilch about the hunting act) to turn up but Special Branch were interested in all hunt monitors/protestors.

This didn’t seem to make sense!

There appeared to be somewhat of a vicious circle. The hunt monitors were trying to prevent and report incidents of illegal hunting. Hunters would phone the police and report ‘criminal behaviour’ by the ‘sabs’. The police would turn up and treat the hunt monitors as the criminals. Hunt monitors would, quite rightly, think the police were ‘siding’/in the pockets of the hunters. Hunt monitors would be, at best, very cautious with the police but extremely guarded, filming what police, (who didn’t know their powers) were doing. This in turn would aggravate the police who continued treating hunt monitors as the criminals. Hunt monitors became more and more guarded against the police sometimes covering their faces, wearing dark clothes, police would look at them and their police brains would definitely tell them that they were up to no good…..(Well, that’s how I saw it).

But crucially, police were not encouraged in any way to deal positively to reports of illegal hunting. Interestingly we had a talk from an officer who worked for The National Wildlife Crime Unit. He came to Hereford Police Station. During the talk he told us that the only wildlife crime they would not deal with was anything to do with hunting! Why should that be?

About 6 or 7 years ago I was asked to attend an incident of ‘hunt sabs’ causing problems in the Ross area. A member of The Ross Harriers Hunt had called this in. I attended but the hunt had moved off. As I drove down a nearby road a local resident flagged me down. I stopped and he told me that he couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. He said he had been gardening at his house. He noticed a Landrover at the end of his garden on the road. He said that as the hunt rode past the leader of the hunt bent down, looked inside the back of the Landrover and said, “Look, they’ve got a fucking wog in the back”. The local resident couldn’t believe what he had witnessed.

I then continued after the hunt and found a black female hunt monitor who confirmed what the local resident had told me. I later arrested the Master of the Ross Harriers for Racially aggravated public order and he was subsequently found guilty at Hereford Magistrates Court by a District Judge. (Subsequently found not guilty on appeal at Worcester Crown Court….but thats another story).

Before the initial court case, rumours were spread in the local area about me having an affair with one of the hunt monitors!!! I wonder why they would want to do that then?

I knew that I would have to get a bit more knowledge on the hunting act and, in doing so slowly got some trust from some of our local hunt monitors.

But the hunting act I saw beggared belief. I’m still not sure that many people today and especially police officers, get it. So there’s this hunting act that bans hunting with more than 2 dogs………..unless they are hunting for rabbits or rats………

Now I don’t know about you but I don’t think a pack of hounds would know the difference (or give a shit) if they came across a rabbit a rat, a fox or your pet cat. They are going to kill it. (Did someone really come up with this law)?

So……. if you come across a hunt who are quite obviously not following a trail because the hounds are flushing out a hedgerow or spending an hour or so in a small wooded area, that’s all they have to say is that they are looking for rabbits and rats…….and they comply with the law.

So, following this, if a hunt ever reported to me that hunt monitors were committing aggravated trespass on land, (Disrupting a lawful activity) if it was clear that the hunt were not following a trail, I would tell them that whether or not they were conducting a lawful activity was subjective. (ie, I could not stand in front of a Magistrate or Judge and say that I was satisfied that a lawful activity was being disrupted). Because I refused to take action this then obviously reinforced the rumour that I was ‘anti hunt’ and having the affair!!

There were then other events which took place which reduced my respect for this hunt. While hunting, the lead hound of The Ross Harriers Hunt, Arrow, lead the pack onto the A40 and was killed by a Dutch articulated lorry. I arrived minutes later. The young Dutch lorry driver said that he couldn’t believe it. The hound had caused substantial damage to the front of the lorry. It died instantly. The hunt surrounded the lorry, the hound was scooped up and the hunt moved on without giving any details to the lorry driver. When I caught up with the hunt, they denied any knowledge of the incident to start with. It was only later they agreed that the incident took place. Disgraceful behaviour.

Lastly, in 2015 in an attempt to help ‘legitimise’ one of our local hunt monitor groups, I came up with an idea to help them. I explained the problems with ‘police officer brains’ seeing ‘sabs’ with dark clothes, looking sinister, covering their faces. Essentially, hunt monitors were just the same as people involved in neighbourhood watch schemes, preventing and reporting criminal/unlawful/antisocial behaviour. I said, if it were me, I would wear a bright T shirt which explained clearly what I was doing. They agreed and thought this was a cool idea. They applied to the police to become a ‘watch’ scheme. Unfortunately their application was turned down by the chief constable, Anthony Bangham!!!! Why? Maybe this is explained later in this blog!!

Local Hunt Monitor attempting to start a ‘Watch Scheme’!

72 thoughts on “(2) Before I begin….

  1. Enjoyed reading the prelude and your first blog. It’s good to know that there are some decent coppers even if you are retired now. Will look forward to the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well done for reporting on this and making more people aware of the cruel and barbaric acts of these individual,
        The world is such a cruel place our poor animals and wildlife are suffering at the hands of monster.
        Carol

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      2. The world is corrupt and so many so called human beings believe that they are superior to animals. It is all about money and that is all these cruel people see. These people have not been wired up right and can’t think for themselves. They learn from their parents and are not taught that all life is important to our planet.

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  2. So very pleased to see and read this blog! You’re a good man and more decent, brave people like yourself need to speak out. This corruption and cruelty needs to be exposed. It is disgusting that hunts have been allowed to continue like this into the modern day – we know why…
    Thank you. Standing together we can continue to expose this wicked minority and the hold they still have on our law enforcement and courts.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for revealing this, I really feel this should be headline news, have you thought of sending your blog to national press? The arrogance of the hunters should be revealed to the public as not everyone follows social media. I will share this and hope it reaches a wider audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As an ex Police Officer, I would say that this is not far from accurate! There is no doubt that Senior Police Officers, Members of The Judiciary and Members of Parliament mix in the same social circles? The Old Boys Clubs? Your ordinary Bobby would abhor any form of animal cruelty and also abhor anyone uses their social position to avoid prosecution. They are directed by those on high. The use of Special Branch to observe Hunt Monitors is a waste of time and money. They should be concentrating on terrorists! The term Saboteur does the Anti Hunt Brigade no favours, nor does covering their faces. Be open and frank. Advise the Rural Crime Units of your intentions to monitor the illegal activities and request their support. Remember that if you are not happy with the behaviour of the Police, you are perfectly entitled to lodge a formal complaint to the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner. If still not satisfied to the local MP. Failing that, a petition to Parliament! If necessary a big media push. It is time to bring this barbaric medieval practice to an end!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well done for being honest about the biases police have against Hunt monitors and in favour of the hunt. It’s about time someone spoke up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful let’s hope this blows apart all the lies and we now see some hunts brought to court, and not thrown out, and due sentences and fines awarded

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mr. Harris, may I call you ‘Sir,’ there’s a great deal of barbarism in blood-sports which aren’t published because of the public backlash. People such as ourselves – who are human beings – could really ‘go for these people, who in reality couldn’t care in the slightest what happens during their leisure times! I’ve no doubt these people would chase me and you and others across ploughed fields if they could get away with it. Oh, they would care VERY greatly if their quarterly statements were poor. Heads full of money which breed, aye breed across generations, and nothing else inside their heads. There is another day coming which I’m very sure about, some will not welcome it. Thanks for your courage in your letter.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Richard very nice to know there is some decent people in the police force telling it how it really is here’s hoping you will be joined by more decent police I’m sure there must be some that are not corrupt thank you for your bravery and honesty ..sending blessings For protection your way 💜

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  8. I’d suspect you could probably write a book about it! Well done for speaking the truth. Can’t wait for your next instalment!

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  9. I’d suspect you could probably write a book about it! Well done for speaking the truth. Can’t wait for your next instalment!

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  10. At last the truth is out. As a previous comment says, ‘the Old Boys Club’ supports the Hunting and apart from the hellish brutality the Hunts are destroying our countryside and its wildlife. Its a tragedy and the recent election results give me little hope for any future for anything. I’m now 74, brought up in the countryside , lived in various countries, London where I worked and lived for many yrs. i returned to the country in mid 80s , bought a pony and began to see what Hunts do. Bredding foxes, feeding cubs so that Terrier men could take a fox and put it in their box on their quad bike and set it up for the Hunt to chase and rip apart. The pheasant shoots put up snares. The list of the horrors that go on underneath the facade of the ‘beautiful countryside’ is the tragedy. During th enight there are criminals out there digging out badgers to then set up as a form of entertainment, to fight dogs andhave an audience. the Hunt and their often hired thugs have seriously injured people trying to uphold the Anti Hunting Law and 99% of the time the Police appear to support the Hunts or sit on the fence.

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  11. An interesting piece thankyou. Trouble is Sabs have to mask up to protect themselves. I’ve witnessed the hunt saying “we know where you work and where you live”. They employ brainless thugs who are loose canons and love an excuse to be violent and intimidating. Also the hunt find it harder to single out and victimise a the masked Sabs. Sabs put themselves out there greatly out numbered amongst a field of hostile entitled riders and their violent lackies and followers. Hiding their identity is the only safeguard they’ve got.

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    1. Anne, I fully understand this and appreciate your comments. I do think it would still be worth wearing a bright coloured jacket or shirt telling everyone why you are there. Ie ‘Hunt Monitor protecting wildlife’ or something like this.
      I know you shouldn’t have to do this but I know that a lot of Sabs don’t talk to the police. This way, they wouldn’t have to. It’s really about projecting a more positive image for the police and public to see.
      Please don’t think that I am in any way criticising what Sabs do in any way. They have my fullest respect. I just try to think out of the box to enable this to move forward. 😀

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  12. An excellent read and very enlightening on how these people gang together to discredit anyone who disagrees with their vile activities

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  13. Thank you for being brave and confirming what most of us who hate hunting with a passion already knew. If more people like you were willing to tell the truth about how corrupt the criminal judiciary are when it comes to the hunting fraternity and their continued illegal activities, it would go a long way to having this disgusting, barbaric outdated ‘sport’ totally banned, not just the loopholes tightened. Looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs. Thank you.

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  14. Thanks for your support. Nothing you’ve said surprises us. Police have been treating compassionate people like this for many years. It’s still good to hear it first hand from a police officer.

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  15. Really interesting. From what I can gather anti-hunt will hide their identity primarily to avoid retaliations from hunt supporters (not the police) And having seen the type of people that hung around when I protested the hunt parading through Lewes on Boxing Day, I think I get it.
    No-one wants to put themselves, their family or their property at risk – even when they are in the right.
    I can’t help but worry that until the Hunting Act is tightened the corruption at senior levels in the police will carry on untroubled.

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  16. An important and timely blog by this brave ex copper. Thank you. And very good to see it followed by the comment by copper Stuart Harris.

    I appreciate how their comments could expose them to a tricky backlash from pro-hunt people, the police force and, those in higher places but, I really, really hope they’ll reach out to others in the force who might have similar thoughts, and become a ‘force for good’.

    God knows the wildlife of this country need it, and with any luck it’ll widen society’s conversations on hunting in general, including trophy hunting, which I see on the Government Petitions site, was denied air space.

    It’s not good enough to say, Britain’s a free country, we have freedom of speech, then hush up, through threats and heavy handedness, any and all views that rattle the foundations of the establishment.

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  17. Very interesting indeed. I remember when the Hunting Act was going through parliament. It seemed to me then that the BIGGEST weakness of the pro-Hunting lobby’s argument was revealed by the then statistics – that there were more foxes in Hunting counties than in NON-Hunting counties!!! I recall being disappointed that none of the media (as far as I was aware) picked up on this.

    I learned, many years ago, now, from the sister of a childhood friend (who is no longer one), that he had become Master of his local Hunt. When I said, “Really?” she replied, “Yes, he’s SOMEBODY in (county) now”!!!

    Fortunately, there are many of us who have a conscience and think differently.

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A sincere “Thank you” for your continued opposition to this cruel ‘Sport’.

    In my opinion, given the way the ‘policing’ of fox hunting is handled on a nationwide basis, I suspect that masonic links between local police and Hunt principals, MUST play a big part in how these buggers are allowed to get away with murdering foxes so openly.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It is heartening to know that so many people abhore this outdated idea of fun. We used to have Bear baiting and Bull baiting in the towns which was outlawed centuries ago. It obviously takes longer for some people brought up in rural areas to catch up and become civilised. I live in a rural area and will never agree with killing for fun whether it be Breeding pheasants and grouse for the mindless to take potshots at, Hare coursing or fox hunting. They have the brass neck to call it sport, the animals and birds have no chance and they don’t only kill pheasant but many other birds. People who pursue these activities are dangerous but it’s all about money isn’t it? These sort of people have no empathy with life and dare I say it people. It would be great if you contacted all the top papers and also the Government and Defra and let them read your experiences. Some humans are uncivilised and look what they are doing to our wildlife and planet. Thank you Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow, interesting article to read and very informative. But I can honestly say I am not surprised at the way the system looks after the chosen few and we all know who am talking about. This is truly a barbaric act and belongs back in the dark ages, along with dog fighting ( which I know still goes on but underground) and bear baiting (which is also still happening in places like Pakistan and is banned by the Taliban not for the bears or dogs sake but to stop the gambling). We must remember not only do the foxes die a horrible frightening death but the dogs and horses also mean nothing to this sewer filth. We need to get tough on animal abuse but its difficult when the law is an A$S but we must never stop trying and keep fighting. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes the law is an Ass especially when it comes to convicting so called human beings with lots of cash and many of our politicians are members of the hunt or want their financial support. Not wired up right comes to mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. This explains why the South Wold Hunt were never prosecuted for blatantly hunting and killing foxes with dogs and in one instance committing ‘criminal damage* ‘ to property. On another occasion the hounds rampaged through my garden in pursuit of a fox which they subsequently killed in a field less than 100 yards away. I could also mention the thugs on the quad bike from who I got a load of abuse.
    * words of the police officer I spoke to not mine

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  22. Thank you for writing and your insights on the issues of fox hunting. It explains why I never see hunters being prosecuted, despite the prevalence of the ‘sport’
    I look forward to reading more.

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