Posted on 26th February 2019

Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner is thanking local residents who attended a public scrutiny meeting to discuss the policing of hunting in Cheshire.

David Keane welcomed more than 70 local residents to the meeting at Cheshire Constabulary headquarters in Winsford yesterday (Monday 25 February 2019).

The meeting provided the opportunity for the commissioner to scrutinise Cheshire Constabulary’s newly appointed chief constable, Darren Martland, following an independent review into how the force polices illegal hunting and offences relating to it.

David commissioned the review in 2018 following concerns raised by Cheshire residents and public representatives.

Ahead of the meeting, the commissioner received almost 200 individual questions from members of the public which he grouped into common themes to form part of his scrutiny of the chief constable.

Key issues raised by Mr Keane included the enforcement of the Hunting Act 2004 by Cheshire police, the training police officers and PCSOs in Cheshire receive in relation to the Act, the referral of hunting relating incidents to the Crown Prosecution Service, road traffic issues relating to hunting and the role of terrier men and the laying of scents during hunts.

The meeting also included a presentation from Ian Pollard from the Red Snapper group who carried out the independent review. He outlined the findings of the review and the 11 recommendations it had made to the Cheshire Constabulary to improve the way it polices hunts.

David said: “It was pleasing to see so many local residents with a variety of views on hunting in attendance at the meeting. This level of public engagement shows the importance of this issue to people in Cheshire - that’s why it was important to hold this scrutiny meeting in public.

“Many issues relating to hunting were discussed at the meeting including my suggestion for both pro and anti-hunt groups to work with police to implement an event plan ahead of hunt meetings to keep both groups safe.

“I would also like to see more preventative work implemented by Cheshire police to prevent offences related to hunting and enhanced training for all officers in wildlife crime.”

The commissioner will now create an action plan to ensure Cheshire Constabulary implements the recommendations made within the independent review and the actions discussed at the meeting. This will be reviewed regularly as part of the commissioner’s scrutiny board meeting with Cheshire Constabulary.

“This is by no means the end of the conversation on hunting in Cheshire. I will continue to hold the chief constable to account to ensure Cheshire police is enforcing the current law in relation to illegal hunting, appropriately and legitimately”, added David.

“The independent review found that the current legislation in relation to hunting presents challenges to investigators and prosecutors and I met with Cheshire MPs earlier this month to discuss these issues. I will continue my conversations with our elected representatives to explore legislative change to strengthen the Hunting Act.”

Chief Constable Darren Martland added: “The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the issues in an open forum with input from all sides. The assurance I can give is that we are taking the review seriously and we have already implemented many of the recommendations.

“The community is telling us this should be a priority for us and I see this as a real opportunity for us all to work together.”