Adopt
fox hounds

Thames Valley Police working with Kimblewick Hunt?

Thames Valley Police working with Kimblewick Hunt…surely the police aren’t really aligning with a law-breaking fox hunt?

 

A few days ago the pro-hunting lobby group Countryside Alliance posted a short ‘news report’ in which they claimed that Thames Valley Police had started working with the notorious Kimblewick Hunt on what was termed a ‘community fightback against rural crime’.

According to the CA, which has its roots deep in unsuccessful efforts to repeal the Hunting Act 2004 which banned hunting wild mammals with hounds, “Hunts are a vital link between villages, farmers, police, and council services on a very local and widespread scale. From spotting fly-tipping and suspicious vehicle activity during a morning’s hound exercise to assisting and notifying farmers and landowners of open gates, farm damage, machinery, or livestock theft while preparing and travelling hunt country, hunts and hunt staff understand their role in the rural community.”

Rural crime (and of course wildlife crime like illegal hunting) is undeniably a problem in the countryside, and having more people aware of it makes sense, but it will certainly appear deeply ironic to anyone that has had to stop the Kimblewick from breaking the law on innumerable occasions that they should now be presented as an ‘eyes in the field’ response to illegality. Why not empower members of local communities who also spend time in the countryside but who aren’t breaking the law while out there instead?

 

The Kimblewick Hunt and illegal fox hunting

The ‘news’ was picked up on social media, with local sabs expressing their surprise and pointing out that there had already been multiple accusations of police bias towards the Kimblewick and asking whether the police would work with other groups or businesses convicted of crime. This is the hunt, after all, whose terriermen, Mark Vincent and Ian Parkinson, were convicted of animal cruelty in 2019 when caught releasing a captive fox in front of the Kimblewick’s hounds. The same hunt that was captured on CCTV in Dec 2020 following a fox into a yard where he/she tries to hide behind a metal container: footage broadcast on ITV News then showed huntsmen running in and dragging the ragged corpse of the fox from the hounds.

ITV News Rupert Evelyn Tweet Kimblewick Hunt

This is the same hunt too, that was memorably slated in a post on Hounds Off by a member of the local community calling themselves ‘Disgusted of Kimblewick’ who described the chaos caused by the hunt that they witnessed and saying:

I always know when the Kimblewick Hunt is here before I see them. There’s an air of menace about and clues come from nervous wild animals I always see behaving differently to usual on hunt days. Clues build up during the morning; distant shouts, yakking, whooping, horn tooting and often the wail of hounds on cry shattering the usual peace of the countryside…

Living in the Kimblewick country can be an unpleasant experience. I have witnessed and reported their illegal hunting to Thames Valley police on several occasions but they failed to attend each time – including when Kimblewick terriermen blocked and threatened us on a public byway for daring to be out in my own local area when they were. (Hounds Off, Nov 2019)

 

Do the police really want to be associated with illegal hunting?

Not really the sort of people you’d think Thames Valley Police – who are charged with upholding the law of course – would want to be associated with on any level.

But then there is no mention of the meeting the CA writes about on the Thames Valley Police’s extensive news pages, and nothing comes up when searching their website. Could it simply be yet another desperate instance of the CA trying to spin hunting in a positive light while social media is awash with video and first-hand reports of hunts routinely breaking the law and polling consistently showing that the public wants the ban on fox hunting properly enforced?

Thames Valley Police has a statutory duty to work with key partner agencies to reduce crime, disorder, and anti-social behaviour and have a page on their site dedicated to ‘Rural Crime’. It’s understandable that they might be present at a new initiative to tackle the problem. Protect the Wild has reached out to the force for confirmation that all they did was turn up as representatives of local policing and have no formal links with the Kimblewick Hunt (which is what we suspect).

fox hunt support from Greg Smith MP

If they have – as the Countryside Alliance and hunt-supporting Conservative MP Greg Smith for Buckingham appears to suggest in the same CA ‘report’ – set up a ‘partnership’ with the Kimblewick on any level, though, that could represent a strong conflict of interest especially when Thames Valley Police find themselves policing a hunt that has broken the law in the recent past, and from all accounts is still breaking it today.