Pack of foxhounds hounds on the road. The legs of horses can also be seen.

Police ‘ASBO’ the Warwickshire Hunt for causing road chaos

Warwickshire Police has slapped the Warwickshire Hunt with an ‘ASBO’. It means the hunt is required to tell the police whenever it crosses a public road. And the local hunt saboteur group has welcomed the move.

On 14 December, Warwickshire Rural Crime Team announced it had issued a Community Protection Notice (CPN) to the Warwickshire Hunt. The team said it had made the decision following an unheeded warning to the hunt in May. And the CPN requires the Warwickshire Hunt to provide the police with:

advance notice of events, and details of the times and locations of road crossing points.

It also said failure to meet these requirements amounts to a criminal offence.

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. And the Warwickshire Hunt’s CPN comes after a backlog of dangerous activity on the county’s road network.

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

Legacy of road chaos

Local paper Warwickshire World reported on road chaos caused by the Warwickshire Hunt on 23 November. It said drivers were “forced to swerve and brake” after hounds ran along a busy road. West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs recorded the incident, which occurred on the A422 near Stratford. And the sab group described the incident at the time as a “massive health and safety concern”.

The Warwickshire Hunt publicly apologised through the Warwickshire World article. It said the hounds had “strayed away from the trail”, and that its priority is “welfare of the hounds and for safety”. However, this isn’t reflected in its actions. An anonymous source told Protect the Wild that the CPN came after the Warwickshire Hunt had racked up dozens of incidents of road havoc.

One such incident was reported by the Independent. The article said the Warwickshire Hunt took over the A423, including riding the wrong way along one lane. West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs, which was present on the day, said in its hit report the hunt continued riding on the roads “as darkness fell”, leaving riders “barely visible”. And in its article, the Independent said the sab group believed “it was only a matter of time before there was a serious accident”.

With this legacy, it’s no surprise Warwickshire Hunt’s apology didn’t convince Warwickshire Rural Crime Team. In its CPN announcement, the team said:

We have issued this notice because we’re committed to keeping the Warwickshire road network safe. We want to prevent criminal behaviour that impacts our communities using our roads safely.

The notice lasts for three years, and gives the hunt 21 days to appeal.

New precedent

Hunts causing chaos on roads is not a new problem. However, this appears to be the first time authorities have imposed such drastic restrictions.

Hunt whipper-in holds a dead hound by the leg on a busy road, with traffic in the background.
Fitzwilliam Hunt hounds were killed when crossing a busy road, via Peterborough Hunt Sabs.

West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs, whose ongoing campaign against the Warwickshire Hunt was crucial in achieving the milestone, said it welcomed the CPN and that:

There are only a handful of hunt meets where they could realistically hunt without crossing any public roads. During the main hunting season they will cross multiple roads in a single day.

And in a post by the Hunt Saboteurs Association, the sab group further explained that:

Roads obviously wouldn’t be an issue for a “trail hunt” but since this is just a smokescreen and the path the fox takes can be unpredictable, the Warwickshire Hunt won’t know beforehand which roads their hounds may end up on.

We also recommend that people outside of Warwickshire start filming all instances of their local hunts causing havoc on public roads and then get in touch with their local police forces and ask them why they aren’t doing similar to Warwickshire Police.

Warwickshire Rural Crime Team’s bold decision may have set a new precedent for taking on the hunting industry.

If you were involved with or witnessed hunt havoc on roads, please let Protect the Wild know. You can donate to West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs via Paypal.

Featured image via West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs