Commissioners long awaited review into the policing of the Hunting Act in North Wales published
A review to consider how North Wales Police oversees the enforcement of the Hunting Act has finally been published.
The independent review was ordered in May 2022 by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin, a move described as an “unnecessary political vanity project” by the Countryside Alliance.
Mr Dunbobbin has previously described the law on hunting as being “far too weak” and “not fit for purpose.”
The new report published today (Thursday, January 12) has been prepared by members of Cyfiawnder – the Social Inclusion Research Institute at Wrexham Glyndwr University, who sought the views of the pro-hunting and anti-hunting community, the police and others connected with the issue.
The review examined enforcement challenges for the police related to the Hunting Act 2004.
It also evaluated good practices for policing the hunting ban and evaluated North Wales Police’s performance in relation to illegal fox hunting and hunting-related incidents.
It also evaluated the force’s compliance with National Standards on recording, responding, investigating, and prosecuting hunting-related incidents.
The review states that fox hunting is not a national policing priority for North Wales Police, but notes that the force’s policing of the Hunting Act aligns well with good practice guides and that it had been refreshing its approach to enforcing the hunting ban in the 12 months prior to the review.
The review involved a survey which saw nearly 120 responses, it also examined the police response to 57 incidents.
During the interviews, 38 individuals from different groups were interviewed, including police officers, hunt/anti-hunt groups, hunting organisations, people affected by hunting, and others with insight based on their work.
Additionally, written and video evidence was also submitted by hunt and anti-hunt groups and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The review found that North Wales Police’s actions “are consistent with good practice”, it also includes 10 recommendations for the force to improve their handling of hunting incidents.
These recommendations include further training for Joint Communications Centre (JCC) staff taking calls relating to hunting, of the “distinction between trail hunting (legal) and illegal fox hunting and on the information to obtain when an incident is reported.”
The report also calls for a more “investigative mindset” when dealing with illegal fox hunting, with no pre-conceptions being applied, and for all police officers and staff to document their actions and decisions on police logs.
Additionally, the report recommends that the North Wales Police continue to have structured conversations with hunt and anti-hunt groups, and to explore ways of using social media to show the challenges of rural policing.
Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, said: “Rural and wildlife crime is especially important to me due to the significant impact that crime can have on our rural communities across North Wales.
“Many people from across the spectrum of opinion on hunting raised this issue with me and I commissioned this review to gain an independent and objective insight into how the Hunting Act is policed in North Wales.”
He said: “It is important that we put the police under a lens to see where they are policing effectively and where any improvements might be needed.”
“While the findings demonstrate that North Wales Police are doing an effective job in policing the Hunting Act, and in balancing the strident views on both sides of the hunting divide, the report also recommends a number of changes in operations.”
“I will now work with the Chief Constable and senior officers of North Wales Police to see how these recommendations can be put into
- To read the full review and its recommendations, visit the website of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner here.
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