What is a PCC, and why should I care?
It is almost election time for England, Wales and Scotland, both for local councils and devolved governments.
But there is one additional set of elections that could have a particular impact for wildlife: the election of Police and Crime Commissioners.
But what is a Police and Crime Commissioner, and what can they do for wildlife?
The role of a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account in England and Wales. PCCs are political positions, and they are elected to make sure local police meet the needs of the community, especially how your area is policed and how the police budget is spent. This includes allocations to tackle wildlife crime.
Wildlife crime includes hunting with dogs, which is illegal under the Hunting Act (2004). The League Against Cruel Sports recorded 300 reports relating to suspected illegal hunting in 2020, despite the lockdown.
Across England and Wales, we believe policing of hunting with dogs is not getting the resources required to assist forces to adequately deal with it. As the 2020 reporting shows, this lack of resource is allowing hunts to carry out rampant acts of animal cruelty with impunity.
When footage of suspected illegal hunting appears online, many commentators ask, “where are the police?”. Many others go a lot further with their line of questioning. Some people may agree with those questions, others may say they are unfair. Either way, PCCs are the people who are elected to answer these questions, and in the case of hunting with dogs, those who can allocate police resources to enforce the hunting ban.
Awareness among the general public of PCCs is not as high as it should be for a role that supposed to be a bridge between the people and the police. The last election saw only a 27 per cent voter turnout. However, while this is low, it does mean your vote has a greater impact than in an election with a higher turnout. In essence, your voice is louder. And you can speak loudly for wildlife.
Where do your PCC candidates stand on hunting with dogs? Do they think illegal hunting should be made a national wildlife crime priority? Will they be prioritising enforcing the Hunting Act in their police force?
Find the answers to these questions by taking action today.
You can make a difference to how the law is enforced where you live.