fox hounds

Essex Police serves hunt with Community Protection Warning

Anti-hunting campaigners and hunt saboteurs scored another victory on 3 March when the Essex with Farmers and Union Hunt was issued with a Community Protection Warning (CPW).

Essex Police tweeted:

“RET [Rural Engagement Team] have issued a Community Protection Warning to a hunt that operates in Essex. Following reports of trespassing and other issues affecting local communities, RET have taken action. Everyone must remain within the law whilst participating in country sports.”

A CPW is the first of three stages that the police can take in their process of issuing a Community Protection Notice (CPN). The first stage is to issue a formal warning to an individual or group, outlining what action they need to take or stop so that they aren’t sanctioned with a CPN. The second stage is to issue a CPN if the conditions of the warning are broken. The final stage is for the police to take action if the CPN isn’t complied with.

Protect The Wild previously reported that:

“A CPN is issued when the actions of an individual or group’s “unreasonable conduct” persistently impacts the local community. It replaced the more famous Antisocial Behaviour Order, or ASBO.”

Suffolk and Essex Hunt Sabs celebrated, saying:

“We are very pleased to learn of the news that Essex Police have taken action against the Essex with Farmers and Union Hunt…
Hunts cannot continue to terrorise wildlife, block roads, invade people’s gardens and properties without any consequences.”

And of course, if Essex Police pays attention, it will only be a matter of time before the Essex Farmers with Union is issued with a CPN. In December 2022, another police force issued the Warwickshire Hunt with a CPN.

A criminal hunt

Protect The Wild recently reported on how Essex police had taken action against one hunt – also known to be the Essex with Farmers and Union – which had blocked a badger sett and carried out illegal hunting. The police said it had seized phones from people, and found a lock knife on one of the riders.

And in December 2022, hunt saboteurs recorded hunt staff racially abusing a saboteurs of colour. At the time, North London Hunt Sabs reported that:

“A frustrated member of the Essex Farmers, George Smith, took it upon himself to assault one of our group and steal a camera. Happily for us, another camera caught the assault. Just as happily for us, the disgusting racist abuse dished out by this hunt was also caught on camera.”

The sabs continued:

“The racism, assault and theft did nothing to deter us from stopping illegal fox hunting. We did not allow them to hunt and duly escorted them back to their meet.”

Another nail in hunting’s coffin

The news of the CPW is yet another blow for the drowning Essex with Farmers and Union Hunt. In December 2022, it was announced that the hunt will merge with the Puckeridge Hunt for the 2023/24 season, indicating that it is struggling to stay afloat. A number of other hunts have recently been forced to amalgamate.

Hunt’s governing body, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), will likely be growing increasingly frustrated as certain police forces take (albeit small) steps against hunts. The BHSA recently rebranded itself in a desperate attempt to save hunting’s reputation. But since the rebranding it has already had to permanently expel the Avon Vale Hunt after gruesome footage showed hunt members digging out two foxes. The video made news headlines across the country. On top of this, Matt Longman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Fox Hunting Crime, recently announced that illegal hunting is “prolific”.

The last two years have been a PR disaster for hunting, ever since a series of webinars were leaked in late 2020. The webinars showed Mark Hankinson, director of the MFHA, openly saying that trail hunting was just a smokescreen for illegal hunting. A court later found Hankinson guilty of encouraging others to evade the hunting ban. Off the back of this, major landowners in the UK – Forestry England, the National Trust, Natural Resources Wales, and the Lake District National Park Authority – all banned trail hunting on their land. Hankinson later won an appeal against his conviction, but hunting’s reputation was permanently damaged.

Yet more bad press will be the last thing the BHSA wants. But as its registered packs continue to be caught on film breaking the law, negative headlines and prosecutions of hunt staff are inevitable.

Featured image via Shutterstock

Thankyou for supporting our work to end hunting in the UK