Read this angry complaint in the Western Morning News and you might just get a feel for what it’s like to work in the Campaigns and Communications department at the League Against Cruel Sports.
During the hunting season the volume of exasperated callers we get staggered by the out of control behaviour of hounds belonging to organised hunts is nothing short of scandalous – particularly as so little seems to change from the response of the hunters supposedly ‘in control’ of their hounds and the police who appear to come up short each time they are notified of this anti-social behaviour.
It really isn’t just Julie at the end of her tether, read this from the Horncastle News and spot the similarity.
Both these incidents could benefit from police involvement that looked beyond the Hunting Act to provide a remedy to ease the fear and harassment that many rural communities have to live with during the hunting season. As an aide here are a few suggestions for law enforcement officers to consider when faced with hunt havoc:
If hounds are not under control on a road, and without being on a lead this may be an offence under s27 Road Traffic Act 1988 - a person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence. There is a limited exemption for dogs which at the material time were under proper control for sporting purposes. This is unlikely to apply to a hunt if the dogs are out of control and as a sporting purpose must be a lawful sport they would not be on a road if the hunt were lawfully [i.e. drag/trail] hunting.
s3 (1) Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 – if a dog is dangerously out of control in a public place the owner and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog, is guilty of an offence. Under s3(3) if the owner or, if different, the person for the time being in charge of a dog allows it to enter a place which is not a public place but where it is not permitted to be and while it is there it injures any person or there are grounds for the reasonable apprehension that it will do so he is guilty of an offence.
s1 Criminal Damage Act 1971 – a person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged is guilty of an offence.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) can also be used for incidents involving hunt havoc. ASBOs can be given when anyone (over the age of nine) has acted in an anti-social manner so as to cause, or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to someone in another household and the order is necessary to protect others. The Court can set conditions and has a wide discretion so long as they are reasonable. An order of this nature usually lasts two years.