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Prosecutions of organised hunters

The table below details all known prosecutions of hunters from organised Hunts in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004 since the Act came into force on 18-2-05.  Note that only completed prosecutions are included and the dates given are those on which they were completed [apart from any - there is just one - successfully appealed, where the entry is for the original conviction date]. The qualification for inclusion is that a formal charge or caution was made by police or a summons issued]. 

 

 



 

Date


 

Hunt

 

Persons

charged

 

No. H.Act charges

 

Evidence

from

 

Prosecuted

by

 

Persons convicted

 

Charges

proved


Sanctions

 

No. persons acquitted

No. of charges

no conviction


 

Notes













Mar '17

Grove & Rufford FH

3

3

Public

CPS

3

3

£800, £550, £180 fines

-

-

Witnesses were not known antis

Feb '17

Belvoir FH

1

3

Sabs, public, police

CPS

0

0

-

-

3

CPS dropped charges. 'Can't prove intentional'. 3 foxes killed in day

Dec '15

Lamerton FH

6

6

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

-

6

League  dropped charges. Expert witness challenged

July '15

East Kent FH

5

5

Sabs

CPS

0

0

-

-

5

CPS dropped charges

July '15

Ross Harriers

3

3

Police

RSPCA?

3

3

3 X £165 fines

-

-

Terriermen. Offences away from RH meet

Mar '15

Cattistock FH

1

1

IFAW

CPS

0

0

-

1

-

Couldn't show knew hounds were chasing a fox

Feb '15

Middleton FH

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

1

1

Couldn't show knew hounds were chasing a fox

Jan '15

Lunesdale FH

2

2

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

2

2

Couldn't prove accused were present on the day

Nov '14

Devon&Somerset SH

3

4

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

3

4

CPS dropped cases 2 months before scheduled trial

Oct '14

College Valley FH

3

6

LACS

CPS

3

3

Fines - £2075, £1150, £480

-

3

2 charges each, 1 each proved


Aug  '14**

Melbreak FH*

1

1

Public

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

Hunting seen by tourists. Huntsman acquitted.

April '14

Weston & Banwell FH

2

2

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

2

2

Both acquitted

Nov '13

R.Artillery Beagles

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

Accused absconded abroad. Charge dropped

Nov '13

Ledbury FH

1

1

LACS

RSPCA

0

0

-

-

1

CPS dropped case late

Sept '13

Crawley/Horsham FH

1

1

WSWP

CPS

1

1

C.Discharge

-

-

-

Sept '13

Seavington FH

1

1

IFAW

RSPCA

1

1

£500 fine

-

-

-

Aug '13

Cumbrian hunt 'club'

4

4

Public

Police

4

4

All cautioned

-

-

-

Aug '13

Holderness FH

3

3

Public

CPS

0

0

-

3

3

All 3 persons acquitted. Judge said HA is hard to apply /interpret/prove

Aug '13

Middleton FH

4

4

LACS

CPS

4

4

£200, £100, £100 fines + C.Discharge

-

-

-

Jun '13

Quantock SH

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

CPS dropped charge pre-trial

May '13*

Avon Vale FH

5

5

RSPCA/ police

RSPCA

0

0

-

-

5

All HA charges dropped. 2 Badger Act charges proved

Apr '13*

Weston&Banwell FH*

1

2

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

1

2

1 HA charge dropped pre-trial. Accused acquitted on other

Dec '12

Heythrop FH

4+ Hunt

52

Monitors

RSPCA

2 + Hunt


12

Total of £6,800 fines

0

40

33 charges dropped after guilty pleas to 12, 7 earlier charges dropped pre-trial

Aug '12

Meynell FH

2

2

Sabs

CPS

2

2

£3000 & £250 fines

0

-

Accused didn't give evidence

May '12

Crawley/Horsham FH

4

11

WSWP

CPS

3

5

Total £2,700 fines

0

6

All 3 charges agin 1 person dropped pre-trial. 1 charge dropped during trial, 1 person acquitted of 1 charge

May '12*

Fitzwilliam FH*

2

2

Police

CPS

1

1

£525 fine

0

1

I acquitted of HA offence. 2 convicted of AWA offences

Sept '11

Heythrop FH

1

2

Monitors

RSPCA

0

0

-

0

2

Dropped pre-trial

Jan '11

Fernie FH*

2

2

LACS

LACS

2

2

2x £250 fines

0

-

+ 2 Badgers Act convictions

Dec '10

Sinnington FH

3

3

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

3

3

All 3 persons acquitted

Nov '10

Quantock SH

1

1

LACS

LACS

1

1

£375 fine

0

-

Huntsman's 2nd conviction

July '10

Ullswater FH

1

1

LACS

LACS

1

1

£250 fine

0

-

-

Apr '10

Wick/District Beagles

1

1

Public?

Police

1

1

Caution

0

-

-

Sept '09

Ullswater FH

1

1

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

1

1

Acquitted

Aug '09

Percy FH

1

2

LACS?

LACS?

0

0

-

1

2

Acquitted

Jan '09

Exmoor FH

1

1

LACS

LACS?

0

0

-

1

1

Won appeal on HA conviction

? '08

Heythrop FH

1

4

Monitors

CPS

0

0

-

0

4

Dropped after H.Court ruling

Aug '08

Isle of Wight FH

4

4

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

0

4

All charges dropped pre-trial

? '08

Devon/Somerset SH

2

2?

LACS?

CPS

0

0

-

0

2?

Dropped after High.Court ruling

Jan '08

Minehead Harriers

2

2

LACS

LACS

2

2

2 x £300 fines

0

-

-

July '07

Flint & Denbigh FH

2

2

Police

CPS

1

1

£200 fine

0

1

Off-duty policeman witnessed. Landowner charge was dropped pre-trial

June '07

Quantock SH

2

2

LACS

LACS

2

2

2 x £500 fines

0

-

-

Aug '06

Exmoor FH

1

1

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

1

-

Convicted, fined £500 but acquitted on appeal













TOTALS

32 Hunts

92

158

-

-

37

49

£22,930.00

20

133

-

Date

Hunt

Persons

charged

No. H.Act charges

Evidence

from

Prosecuted

by

Persons convicted

Charges

proved

Sanctions

No. persons acquitted

No. of charges no conviction

Notes


In table above, 'acquitted' means person was tried of offence and found not quilty. 'Dropped' means the charges were discontinued either before or during the trial. The table covers only prosecutions of persons known to be affiliated with organised, though not necessarily 'registered' , Hunts. In one case where Hunt itself charged, Hunt treated as a 'person' .


The table above details all known completed Hunting Act prosecutions launched/police cautions issued against persons affiliated to organised Hunts in England/Wales since the Hunting Act came into effect on

18-2-2005.

It shows that, in those 12 years,:-

- Just 42 completed illegal hunting cases [3.5 per year] have been brought against 91 persons from 31 different organised Hunts, plus 1 whole Hunt. [Counted as a 'person' in table]

- 92 'persons' from organised Hunts have been charged with HA offences [7.7 per year].

- 49 of the 158 charges resulted in conviction or caution [31%].

- 44 of the 125 charges that went to court resulted in convictions [35.2%].

- 28 of the 32 Hunts to have members charged [includes cautions] are fox hunts, 2 deer and 2 hare.

- 4 persons have been charged twice, one three times.

- 38 persons [including Heythrop FH as body corporate] of the 92 charged [41.3%], were convicted or accepted police cautions, of a total of 49 proven HA offences.

- Charges, including cautions, under the Hunting Act, have averaged just 13.2 per year.

- 52 of these charges were re. the big Heythrop trial. Excluding that case, there have been 106 HA charges against organised hunters [8.9 per year].

- The Hunt Monitors Association - all volunteers, most POWA members - provided evidence for 58 of the 158 HA charges against organised hunters [36.7%,].

- League Against Cruel Sports monitors [mostly employees] provided evidence for 52 of the 158 HA charges [32.9%].

- 20 people charged were acquitted of ALL their HA charges after trial/appeal [21.8% of all charged].

- 35 people escaped conviction after ALL their HA charges were dropped, either before court or during trial [38% of all charged].

- 86 of the 158 Hunting Act charges made were dropped either before or at trial [54.4%]. 40 of these related to the big Heythrop trial.

- Exactly half [21] of all the cases have been brought by the main prosecuting authority, the CPS, and they have lost or dropped 13 of them [62%], so their success rate is just 38%. They dropped 7 cases before trial [33% of total cases]. Given how very reluctant the CPS has proved to bring Hunting Act cases at all, this is an indication of how very difficult the extremely high evidential bar set by the Hunting Act is to successfully surmount.

- LACS has brought 12 Hunting Act cases and achieved at least one conviction in 5 of them [success rate 42.5%].

- The League Against Cruel Sports used to prosecute their own cases, with a little more success, but changed policy a few years ago and decided to pass them to the CPS instead. It did, since then, entrust one case to the RSPCA, which failed. Subsequent to the policy change, the LACS did bring one case which the CPS had declined. Charges were dropped at trial after the defence challenged the impartiality of the League's expert witness.

- The RSPCA has brought 6 HA cases and won 3 of them [50%].

The RSPCA attracted such vitriolic propaganda from the pro-hunt side after the very large and expensive Heythrop Hunt case in December 2012 that that they appointed the former Chief Inspector of the CPS to examine their prosecutions policy. Stephen Wooler reported in September 2014. He said that, among other things, monitoring evidence showed beyond doubt that Hunts were extensively flouting the ban. But he determined that the rewards of prosecuting them, partly because of the paltry fines levied, too small to justify the cost to the RSPCA. He urged the CPS to more to bring Hunts to justice and also said the Society should press for the Hunting Act to be strengthened. Although the RSPCA has decided since to prosecute one HA case that the CPS declined, the Society's review of its prosecution policies seems likely to result in a reduction of the total number of prosecutions of organised hunters.. The society is yet to call for strengthening of the Hunting Act, unlike POWA, IFAW, LACS and the HSA.

The great majority of HA cases have relied on evidence from hunt monitors, and some from sabs, but only a very small proportion of those reported by them, with video evidence, have resulted in prosecutions, even though both understand that their evidence needs to be very robust to make it even worth reporting. Their experience is that to obtain evidence sufficient to convict, even when hunting is conducted pretty blatantly in front of them, is extraordinarily difficult, partly because what the Hunting Act allows Hunts to do looks, at least to those not steeped in the ways of their practices, so like the actual hunting of live quarry that it is very hard to convince police, prosecutors or courts that this is precisely what they are doing. And it is very easy for Hunts to trot out seemingly feasible, and by now well-rehearsed, excuses. See 'Reform not repeal' for an explanation of why this is so and the manifold ways Hunts have found to evade prosecution or conviction whilst continuing to hunt wild mammals. See also IFAW's excellent report 'Trail of Lies' which exposes 'trail hunting' to be a clever, but false, alibi, custom-designed to allow Hunts to carry on live quarry hunting whilst minimising their chances of being prosecuted.

Only one person has successfully appealed a Hunting Act conviction [the Huntsman of the Exmoor FH, in 2009].but the hunt side got a huge benefit from it. 'Searching' was declared not to be 'hunting' within the meaning of the Act and the judge emphasised that illegal hunting must be proved to be intentional. He also stressed that, if the accused claims to have been 'Exempt Hunting' the onus is on the prosecution to prove it was not exempt.

Disposals for those convicted of Hunting Act offences have been as follows;- Fines - 43 Conditional Discharges - 2 Cautions - 5 [excludes one originally fined but later acquitted on appeal].

The maximum fine allowed for any one offence was £5000 until March 2015 when it became unlimited. The average levied on conviction where a fine was imposed has been £545 [11.5% of maximum up to March 2015]. The highest levied has been £3000 [offender was a multi-mllionaire], the lowest £100 [2% of the then maximum].

Even on the rare occasions organised hunters are convicted, the sanctions imposed are generally pretty slight and, because they are not recordable, do not result in offenders acquiring a criminal record and not added to an existing criminal record. This also means that police do not keep specific records of alleged Hunting Act offences reported to them, though records of prosecutions are kept by the court service. The Hunting Act, unlike other animal protection legislation, and unlike the equivalent Act in Scotland, has no provision for prison sentences. The maximum fine is £5,000, but the average one, where imposed, has been just 11.5% of this - and six offenders have escaped with just a caution or a Conditional Discharge.

The Act has provisions for confiscation of animals and equipment used in the commission of Hunting Act offences, but these have never been used against organised hunters, though a number of 'lurcher brigade' offenders have had their dogs taken from them and even their vehicles seized and crushed.

The numbers of - cases completed [A], charges made [B] and offences convictied/cautioned [C] per year are as follows:- 

             A      B    C

2005 -   0     1     0

2006 -   1     0     0

2007 -   2    4     3

2008 -  4    12    2

2009 -   3    4     0

2010 -   4    6    3

2011 -   2   4     2

2012-   4   67   20    [big Heythrop and Crawley & Horsham cases this year – 63 of the 67 charges]

2013 - 10  23   11

2014 -   4  13   3

2015 -   9  18   4

2016 -   0   3   0

2017 -   1   3   3    [to 15-3-17]


At 15-3-17, 2 Fitzwilliam FH servants await trial on offences allegedly committed 1-1-16. Trial due to start 26-4-17. 5 people have been arrested under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, but not yet charged, in relation to alleged incidents involving the South Herefordshire FH early last summer.


In March 2016, 2 staff members of the Jedforest FH were charged with illegal hunting under the Scottish Act [2002]. Trial due to begin 16-3-17. This is only the third time that Scottish Act has been used against organised hunters. There have been no convictions of organised hunters in Scotland. The Scottish government, following the Bonomy Review, has announced that it intends to strengthen the Act there.


---------

 

 

The table below details all known prosecutions of hunters from organised Hunts in England and Wales since the Hunting Act 2004 came into force, under animal protection Acts on other than the Hunting Act.

 

 


Date


Hunt

No.

charged

No. of charges

Evidence

from

Prosecuted

by

Persons convicted

Charges

proved


Sanctions

No. persons acquitted

No. charges

dropped


Notes

Sep '15

Cottesmore FH

1

1

LACS

CPS

1

1

£250 fine

-

-

Badgers Act

Aug '15

Atherstone FH

1

1

Sabs

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

CPS dropped after police failed provide evidence

July '15

Ross Harriers

1

1

Police

RSPCA?

1

1

£165 fine

-

-

AW Act – bagged fox

Away from RH meet

Feb '15

Middleton FH

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

1

-

Badgers Act - Convicted but later acquitted on appeal

Feb '15

Middleton FH

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

Badgers Act

Feb '15

College Valley FH

1

1

Public

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

Badgers Act

Sept '14

York & Ainsty S FH

3

3

Sabs

CPS

0

0

-

-

3

Badgers Act.

Aug '14*

Melbreak FH

1

1

Public

CPS

0

0

-

-

1

Dangerous Dogs Act

Jan '14

Crawley/Horsham FH

2

2

WSWP

CPS

0

0

-

2

-

Badgers Actt

Dec '13

Ashford Valley FH

1

1

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

1

-

Badgers Act

May '13*

Avon Vale FH

2

2

RSPCA/ police

RSPCA

2

2

2 x £300 fines

-

-

Badgers Act

Apr '13

Cheshire Forest FH

2

2

Monitor

RSPCA

0

0

-

-

2

Badgers Act

Apr '13

Weston & Banwell FH

1

2

LACS

CPS

0

0

-

-

2

Badgers.Act

Feb '13

Cheshire FH

3

3

Monitors

RSPCA

0

0

-

-

3

Badgers Act

May '12*

Fitzwilliam FH

2

2

Police

CPS

2

2

Total fines £1,050

-

-

Animal Welfare Act

Apr '12

South Devon FH

1

1

LACS

LACS

0

0

-

1

-

Terrierman won appeal against sett interference conviction

Jan '11*

Fernie FH

2

2

LACS

LACS

2

2

£600 and £400 fines

-

-

Badgers Act

Feb '09

S.Dorset FH

1

2

IFAW?

CPS

0

0

-

-

2

Badgers Act

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTALS

17 Hunts

27

29

-

-

8

8

£3,025.00

5

16

-

 
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