Opinion Former Article

Countryside Alliance: Support for hunting as strong as ever, seven years after the ban

On the seventh Boxing Day – the biggest date in the hunting calendar – since the Hunting Act was passed; the Countryside Alliance has welcomed the visit of the Rt Hon. Jim Paice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food with responsibility for hunting, to the kennels of the Fitzwilliam hunt as a ‘strong show of support.’

Jim Paice MP, Minister for Hunting, said:

“The current law simply doesn’t work. I personally am in favour of hunting with dogs – and the Coalition Agreement clearly states that we will have a free vote on whether to repeal the Act when there is time in the Parliamentary calendar to do so.”

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said:

“It is a point of pride for rural communities across Britain that, despite the prejudice and ignorance of some, hunting remains as strong as ever. This Boxing Day we are expecting a quarter of a million people to come out in support of their local hunt. Added to this, the visit of the hunting minister to a hunt kennels is a very welcome and strong show of support from this Government. The Countryside Alliance is delighted to be in such a strong position to push for the repeal of the expensive and failed Hunting Act.”

PICTURE DESKS: EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01HRS MON 26 DEC 2011: Agriculture Minister Jim Paice with Huntsman George Adams and foxhounds during a visit to Milton Park in Peterborough ahead of the annual Boxing Day hunt, traditionally the busiest day in the hunting calendar. HI-RES IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

Over quarter of a million people are expected to turn out to over 300 UK hunts taking place on Boxing day according to the Countryside Alliance which defends and promotes country sports and rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground.


Notes to Editors

1. In November the Countryside Alliance released a report on the failure of the Hunting Act using Ministry of Justice figures:

Click here to view: http://www.countryside-alliance.org.uk/ca/file/Hunting%20Act%20in%202011%20-%20A%20Waste%20of%20Police%20Time%20%28Embargoed%20until%2000.01%2026.10.11%29.pdf

Key findings:

97% of convictions since the Hunting Act came into force relate to poaching or other casual hunting activities, including at least seven people who have been convicted of hunting rats

In 2010, six police forces cautioned 11 individuals under the Hunting Act - not one was for an individual associated with a registered hunt. 16 police forces also proceeded against 49 individuals under the Hunting Act in 2010. Yet only 4 were individuals associated with a registered hunt.

In 2010, 33 individuals were fined under the Hunting Act by local courts. But only one was for an individual associated with a registered hunt. 36 individuals were convicted under the Hunting Act in 2010, only one of these convictions was for an individual associated with a registered hunt.

Since 2005 – the year the Hunting Act came into force – a remarkable twelve police forces covering hunt areas, including Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire, Bedfordshire, Dorset and South Wales, have not issued a single caution, and have not proceeded against, fined or convicted any individual associated with a registered hunt.

Although the total number of hours and days of police time that have been expended in the past year pursuing registered hunts cannot be properly counted, the statistics above reinforce the fact that the Hunting Act is unworkable and police forces are wasting time and effort pursuing law-abiding hunts.

2. The case for repeal of the Hunting Act is summarised in this new document:

Click here to view: http://www.countryside-alliance.org.uk/ca/file/Case_for_Repeal_2011.pdf

3. About the Countryside Alliance

With over 100,000 members the Countryside Alliance defends and promotes country sports and rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground.

The Countryside Alliance believes a vibrant countryside needs five key changes and calls on the Government to:

SERVICES – Ensure an accessible and reliable rural transport and broadband network
HOUSING – Promote local solutions to the lack of affordable rural housing
EDUCATION – Enable all children to gain a practical understanding of the countryside
FARMING – Support British farmers and producers
COUNTRY PURSUITS – Repeal the Hunting Act and champion country pursuits 

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