'Secret deal' between Warwickshire Hunt and Warwickshire Police sparks concern - The Leamington Observer

'Secret deal' between Warwickshire Hunt and Warwickshire Police sparks concern

Leamington Editorial 15th Mar, 2024   0

A ‘SECRET’ deal between Warwickshire Hunt and Warwickshire Police has sparked widespread anger.

The private arrangement, which no one but a few senior police and Warwickshire Hunt know the details of, has led to concerns about whether policing was following due process.

And it has also raised concerns that illegal fox hunting appears to be continuing in the county despite being banned 20 years ago.

A Channel 4 news investigation obtained video of Warwickshire Hunt, one of the oldest in the country, in which a fox appeared to be shown being killed by hounds last year, despite only trail hunting now being legal.

The video was taken by West Midlands Hunt saboteurs which regularly follow the hunt when it goes out. The alleged killing is currently under police investigation.

Numerous complaints have been made about disruption caused by the hunt in rural Warwickshire.

Video footage – again filmed by West Midlands Hunt saboteurs – shows hounds running out into the road, including in front of ambulances with emergency flashing lights, and horses and hounds stopping traffic.

Rural residents have also voiced anger at the hunt coming onto their property uninvited.

The flood of complaints led to Warwickshire Police serving a community protection notice (CPN) on the hunt in December 2022.

The CPN meant the hunt had to let the police know where and when they crossed main roads and breaching the conditions would amount to a criminal offence.

The hunt appealed the CPN but as the court date approached the court case “disappeared”.

This was because, according to Channel 4 news, a secret protocol had been agreed between the hunt and senior officers of Warwickshire Police and from that day until this nobody knows exactly what is in that deal.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western said the deal set a really dangerous precedent for how policing was done across all communities.

He said: “What we have here is some kind of special arrangement which has been agreed by two parties including the police that cannot be in the best interests of the public.”

Mr Western has raised the matter as a national policing issue with home secretary James Cleverly, with the environment department, with the chief constable and with the elected chief commissioner – but says he has got no where.

Warwickshire Hunt joint master Lizzie Sinden said it was not a private deal but a settlement out of court and she did not think the public needed to know about it.

Ms Sinden added she believed the deal was working as they remained accountable to Warwickshire Police and were not free of potential prosecution.

Warwickshire Police’s acting chief constable David Gardner said that the protocol agreed between Warwickshire Hunt and the police was far wider reaching than anything the CPN originally stipulated.

He continued: “The protocol was agreed between solicitors for both sides during a mediation and is therefore confidential.

“Neither a CPN nor a protocol impacts on our ability to investigate and seek prosecution for criminal acts.”

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