My first face to face contact with CID was on 17th July 2016, two weeks after that had first contacted me. I was asked to go to Hereford Police Station where I saw Detective Constable Cleeton who had initially contacted me and his supervisor, Detective Sergeant Wells. DS Wells asked me what the police incident number was when the offence was reported. I explained that there was no incident number. In line with force policy at the time, there was no requirement to create an incident if someone reported something directly to you. DS Wells didn’t seem very impressed with this. (I didn’t make the rules)!!
DS Wells then asked me what the crime number was for the offence. I had little previous experience or interaction with DS Wells who was publicly officious in her questioning. I’ll bare with it, I thought. She’s here to help me.
I explained that ‘Animal Cruelty’ offences under the Animal Welfare Act , (along with reported hunting offences), were non-recordable crimes. (ie they were not given crime numbers). When I had first discovered this, I thought that it must have made recording statistics for these reported offences extremely difficult, if not impossible . (Oh wait, maybe that was the plan)!!
DS Wells then repeatedly said that she didn’t believe me. (Again, I didn’t make up the rules). I suggested that perhaps she should try to record it. Somewhat bemused, I then watched on with the DC, as, over the next half an hour, DS Wells made phone calls to try to get the crime recorded. Of course, it did not get recorded. We seemed to achieve little else and I then left.
After I had left, the DC Cleeton sent me an email. He started this by saying…….. ‘I hope that DS Wells hasn’t left you feeling that CID are taking over. Let me reassure you that will not be the case and I have stressed all along that you have done a very thorough investigation which is almost complete. I fully understand your thoughts about how this has been dealt with and want to stress I am here to assist and help you, progress to conclusion’.
On the following day I received an email from DS Well’s supervisor, Detective Inspector Taylor. (Again, I didn’t really know him very well). He said………………….. ‘Hi Richard, I have today reviewed the investigation into the fox cubs being fed to the hounds. Firstly I just want to say you have done a great job to date. I imagine this has not been an easy task due to the political nature of what’s gone. I want to give you some reassurance that we have no intention of taking over this investigation, as far as I am concerned you are the officer in the case. Our role in this matter is to provide you with all the support we can. As such I have spoken with DS Wells and DC Cleeton regarding what support we can give. DS Wells will supervise this investigation, and DC Cleeton will be your critical friend / support who will dip in at peak times to help you out or guide you if you need to be pointed in the right direction. I will provide the organisation overview. Please do not consider anything we are doing as a criticism, as its certainly a long way from that, we are here to help you build on the great work you have done so far’!
It’s fair to say that at this point, apart from the slightly bizarre conduct from DS Wells, I was feeling pretty good about the investigation.
A little later DI Taylor sent me another email saying that the more suitable offence is ‘Cruelty to a wild mammal’
I then explained that the Animal Welfare Act was a more suitable offence. Under this act, as soon as a wild animal is taken captive it becomes a protected animal. Whoever captivates the animal is then responsible for its welfare. The Wild Mammals Protection Act is mainly used for cruelty offences against animals which are still in the wild at the time of the offence.
A meeting had been arranged for the CID officers and myself to see The Crown Prosecutor, Stephen Davis on Monday 25th July. HIT had given me an address for another suspect, Paul Rees, who was on the film. The case had now been given the name, ‘Operation Childer’.
I was feeling very positive .