MP demands answers about policing of Warwickshire Hunt

MP Matt Western has written to both the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police. The politician has said he is “making clear my express concerns about the lack of transparency” around the policing of the Warwickshire Hunt.

Back in May 2022, Warwickshire Police’s Rural Crime Team gave the hunt a warning notice about “anti-social use of the county road network.”

Then in December 2022, the police force stated, “we continue to see unreasonable and dangerous use of the roads”, and issued the hunt with a Community Protection Notice (CPN). The CPN required the hunt to provide the police with advance notice of events, and details of the times and locations of road crossing points.

Facebook post by Warwickshire Rural Crime Team announcing the CPN.
Warwickshire Rural Crime Team announces the CPN, via Facebook.

Fast-forward to August 2023, and the police backtracked, retracting the CPN and saying that it was negotiating with the hunt to come to a “sensible working arrangement”. At the time, Warwickshire Police said:

“We met with the hunt last week to discuss a protocol they had proposed. The force was satisfied this protocol, if adhered to, would meet the goals of the CPN and that there was therefore no requirement for the CPN.”

But this so-called protocol has never been made public, despite demands by Western and his constituents. And now the MP is demanding more answers.

Lack of transparency

In his letter to Home Secretary James Cleverly, sent on 18 January 2024, Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, stated that he was writing on behalf of “concerned constituents” regarding the “handling of potential criminality by the Warwickshire Hunt.”

Western argued that the private protocol between the police and the hunt has caused “public outrage and suspicion”, particularly because the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, Philip Seccombe, is a member of the Countryside Alliance, an organisation set up specifically to overturn the Hunting Act 2004 and restore hunting. Anti-hunt campaigners were suspicious that Seccombe had something to do with the overturning of the CPN. In fact, Western has previously written to Seccombe himself, demanding answers about why the protocol isn’t in the public domain.

In this latest letter to the Home Secretary, Western wrote:

“Warwickshire Police is refusing to release the terms of the new protocol publicly, so there is no public understanding of the new conditions that the Hunt must abide by.

I believe it would be in the best interests of the public, and the police, to bring full transparency to this issue and make the protocol public. You’ll appreciate that this is essential for the restoration of public trust in this matter. I appeal to you to make this happen.”

And in his letter to Chief Constable Debbie Tedds, dated 17 January 2024, he wrote:

“I remain extremely concerned by the lack of transparency surrounding the new protocol agreed between Warwickshire Police and the Warwickshire Hunt and do not feel that the Force is taking these concerns seriously.”

Impartiality under question

For half a year, Western, hunt saboteurs and wildlife campaigners have all demanded that the protocol is made public knowledge. PCC Seccombe (whose wife Isobel is the Conservative leader of Warwickshire County Council) has said that his membership of the Countryside Alliance “is not a conflict of interest in the policing of the Warwickshire Hunt” and stated that the protocol can remain secret under Section 32 of the Freedom of Information Act, relating to court records.

However, questions about his impartiality were raised yet again when he was forced to apologise for leaving a ‘laughing emoji’ on a West Midlands Hunt Sabs Facebook post.



What are they hiding?

So what are Warwickshire Police and Philip Seccombe hiding? Does this so-called protocol even exist? Or is the Warwickshire Hunt allowed to continue with business as usual?

It certainly seems that way on the ground. But if the protocol does exist, how are we to trust it when the police have admitted that the hunt itself came up with it?


‘Vote Seccombe Out’

Meanwhile, West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs, which sabs the Warwickshire Hunt, has had enough and is beginning momentum for its ‘Vote Seccombe Out’ campaign. The sabs are planning protests outside Warwickshire police stations. They stated:

“Enough is enough.
We demand truth, transparency and justice for our wildlife and local communities. Want to get active and help with peaceful protests please DM us.
Together we can and will keep exposing the Warwickshire Hunt 🦊🖤🙏
  • To stay up to date with this latest campaign follow West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs on Facebook. If you’d like to donate to their fuel costs etc please go to paypalme/westmidlandhuntsabs