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
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.
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
- 20 people charged were acquitted of ALL their HA charges after trial/appeal [21.8% of all charged].
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  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
- 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.
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.
numbers of - cases completed [A], charges made [B] and offences convictied/cautioned [C] per year are as follows:-
A B C
2005 - 0 1
2006 - 1 0 0
2007 - 2
2008 - 4 12 2
- 3 4 0
2010 - 4 6
2011 - 2 4 2
67 20 [big Heythrop and Crawley & Horsham cases
this year – 63 of the 67 charges]
2013 - 10 23 11
- 4 13 3
2015 - 9 18 4
- 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
In March 2016, 2 staff members of the Jedforest FH were charged with illegal hunting
under the Scottish Act . 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.