Why tomorrow’s elections can give hope for animals

Tomorrow is polling day for Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales. With lockdown restrictions easing it is highly likely that the hunting horns will once again be sounding omens for wildlife.

Ahead of tomorrow’s elections, I spoke to Martin Sims. Martin is the League Against Cruel Sport’s director of investigations, and former head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit. As the Police and Crime Commissioner elections approach, Martin is in a unique position to address the issues surrounding enforcement of the Hunting Act (2004), the need to make hunting a national wildlife crime priority, and why it’s important for you to give a voice to animals in this election.

Why should hunting with dogs should be made a national wildlife crime priority?

Hunt cases can fall over for many reasons, but there are two key issues: either the poor quality of the police investigation, or that counsel or solicitors have been poorly prepared for trial. Sometimes it could be both. Making hunting with dogs a national wildlife crime priority would help fix these issues.

Wildlife crime offences can be made a national priority for two reasons; either through the volume of incidents or due to the threat that a particular species is under. With regards to hunting I would argue that it’s not just the volume of offences that are recorded, but also the number of poor quality investigations. Making hunting a national priority should raise the standards of police investigations into fox hunting, hare hunting and coursing as well as stag hunting.

What are the current issues concerning police investigations into hunting?

Over the past three years I have become hugely frustrated with the volume of poor police investigations regarding hunting with dogs. Many cases that should have reached court have not, and those that do are often let down by poor prosecutors. Simply put, police and legal counsel do not know enough about hunting and the law. Far too many times I have been told that the crime is being investigated by those who have “expertise” in this field, only to find out that this is in name only. In many cases the public have known more about hunting than the investigating officer. Making hunting a national priority would hold these cases to a higher standard and focus the minds of those investigating crime.

What can Police and Crime Commissioners do for the enforcement of the Hunting Act?

Since Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) came into being during 2012, their primary role is to hold the respective Chief Constable to account for the performance and delivery of their force’s local policing plan. PCCs?are elected to make sure that local police meet the needs of the community including how your area is policed and funded. This means that even if hunting is not a national wildlife crime priority, your PCC can work to ensure hunting is policed and prioritised in your area.

Please give animals a voice in the PCC elections. You can find your candidates views on hunting on this page.

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