Opinion Former Article

Countryside Alliance: Prime minister is right to question the Hunting Act

In response to the David Cameron’s interview for BBC1’s Countryfile programme, in which the Prime Minister says: "I always thought the hunting ban was a pretty bizarre piece of legislation, I think there should be a free vote in the House of Commons... My problem has always been that it was just taking the criminal law into an area of activity where it didn't really belong"; Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, said:

“The Prime Minister is totally right to question the Hunting Act, especially from a legal basis. Since it came into force, 97% of convictions under the Act have related to poaching or other casual hunting activities, all of which are covered by existing legislation. Hunts across Britain are doing the utmost to abide within what is a very complicated and bureaucratic law, and police forces are wasting time and money policing them when they could be out catching real criminals. The rural community, politicians from both sides of the aisle, and various veterinary groups all agree; the Hunting Act has been a total failure and should be repealed.”

The Prime Minister’s comments come a couple of weeks after Jim Paice, Agriculture Minister with responsibility for Hunting, said he also wanted to see the Hunting Act repealed.

He 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.”

Other Hunting Statistics:

§ Fewer than 10 per cent of people who have been dealt with by the authorities under the Hunting Act since it came into force in 2005 have been associated with a hunt registered with the Council of Hunting Associations.

§ Only six people associated with hunts registered with the Council of Hunting Associations have been convicted under the Hunting Act.

§ Geographically, most convictions have been secured in areas such as Merseyside and Humberside, which are not hunted over by registered packs. Traditional hunting areas such as Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Devon and Cornwall have seen no convictions whatsoever.

§ To date a total of 32 people have been cautioned under the Hunting Act since it came into force in 2005 but only 1 was for an individual associated with a hunt registered with the Council of Hunting Associations.

§ From 2005 to 2010 259 individuals have been proceeded against in courts under the Hunting Act.

§ Out of the 259 individuals proceed against only 22 were associated with hunts registered with the Council of Hunting Associations.

§ In total 158 people have been fined under the Hunting Act since it came into force 2005 to 2010.

§ Only 6 individuals out of the 158 total fined were associated with hunts registered with the Council of Hunting Associations.

§ The number of people convicted under the Hunting Act between 2005 to the end of 2010 is 181.

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