Home
LATEST UK HUNTING NEWS
UK Hunting News Archive
Hunting Act Amendment Bill
Post 'ban' prosecutions of organised hunters
MPs' positions on repeal
POWA Press letters
POWA Press Releases
Video Footage
Hunt Havoc
Heythrop Hunt
How hunters 'love' their hounds
'A Brush with Conscience'
Campaigns
About POWA & Monitors
Contact Us
Links

Prosecutions of organised hunters

The table below details all known completed 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]. 

Abbreviations in table - FH = Fox Hounds, SH = Stag Hounds, CPS = Crown Prosecution Service,  LACS = League Against Cruel Sports, IFAW = International Fund for Animal Welfare, WSWP = West Sussex Wildlife Protection   H.Act = Hunting Act 2004

 

 


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













Sept 17

[Braes o'] Derwent FH

3

3

Sabs

CPS

0

0

-

3

3

Case dismissed early in trial

Mar '17

Grove & Rufford FH

3

3

Public

CPS

3

3

£800, £550, £180

-

-

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

LACS 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 chrgs 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 H.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

33 Hunts

95

161

-

-

37

49

£22,930.00

23

136

-

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 43 completed illegal hunting cases [3.6 per year] have been brought against 94 persons from 33 different organised Hunts, plus 1 whole Hunt. [Counted as a 'person' in table and henceforth here]

- 95 'persons' from organised Hunts have been charged with HA offences [7.9 per year].

- 49 of the 161 charges resulted in conviction or caution [31%].

- 44 of the 128 charges that went to court resulted in convictions [34.4%].

- 28 of the 33 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 95 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 13.4 per year.

- 52 of these charges were re. the big Heythrop trial. Excluding that case, there have been 109 HA charges against organised hunters [9.1 per year].

- The Hunt Monitors Association - all volunteers, most POWA Associates - provided evidence for 58 of the 161 HA charges against organised hunters [36.2%,].

- League Against Cruel Sports monitors [mostly employees] provided evidence for 52 of the 161 HA charges [32.3%].

- 20 people charged were acquitted of ALL their HA charges after trial/appeal [21% of all charged].

- 38 people escaped conviction after ALL their HA charges were dropped, either before court or during trial [40% of all charged].

- Thus, 61% of all organised hunters charged with Hunting Act offences have escaped conviction 

- 86 of the 161 Hunting Act charges made were dropped either before or at trial [53.4%]. 40 of these related to the big Heythrop trial.

- Just over half [23] of all the cases have been brought by the main prosecuting authority, the CPS, and they have lost or dropped 14 of them [60.1%], so their success rate is just 39.9%. They dropped 7 cases before trial [30% 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.

- Just 50% of Hunting Act cases brought by the CPS against organised hunters have resulted in conviction, compared with 87% for all crime. Also, 30% of such Hunting Act cases have been dropped by the CPS pre-trial, compared with just 10% for all crimes. [ 'All crime' figures are based on 2011/12 statistics, the latest we have been able to find.]

- LACS has brought 12 Hunting Act cases and achieved at least one conviction in 5 of them [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 until a couple of years ago £5000. It has since been made unlimited, as with all Level 5 offences. The average levied on conviction where a fine was imposed has been £545 [11.5% of maximum]. The highest levied has been £3000 [offender was a multi-mllionaire], the lowest £100 [2% of the 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 former maximum fine was £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 -   2   6  3   [to 12-9-17]


At 7-9-17, 2 Fitzwilliam FH servants await trial on offences allegedly committed 1-1-16. The trial was due to start 26-4-17, but was adjourned to August. Time of writing is September and it still has not begun. 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 began 16-3-17 and was spread over several weeks. They were both convicted and fined. This is only the third time that Scottish Act has been used against organised hunters. There had previously 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

-

 
Contact details  -  enquiries@powa.org.uk
Protect Our Wild Animals Limited is a Private Limited Company, registered in England & Wales, number 6687073, registered address 13 Albert Place, Loughborough LE11 2DN
Disclaimer: Neither POWA nor the Webmaster necessarily endorse all the views expressed on this site or the views expressed in links/downloads on this site. Responsibility cannot be accepted by POWA or the webmaster for statements made by contributors for publication on this site or on those sites/downloads to which links are given.