Archive for July 9th, 2009

July 9th, 2009

Back in Time

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

I was disappointed to read this week that the Tory party are planning to reverse the ban on foxhunting when they get back into power.

Failed Tory leader William Hague promised the ban would be quickly scrapped when he spoke at the Masters of Foxhounds Association meeting recently.

When I took the Queen’s shilling, I promised to carry out my duties without fear or favour. This means there are times when you are required to do things which go against your own personal beliefs.

Policing foxhunts was one of those things I hated doing. I’ve been a long time critic of the ‘sport’ and while we were there basically to keep the peace between the pro & anti hunt factions, it always felt more like we were there to protect the rights of a select few toffs to prance around the countryside slaughtering our wildlife.

Our local hunt was run by a family who appeared to own half the farms in the district. At least 3 generations of the family were involved in  running or taking part, or both, in the hunt. All the male side had completed careers in the army & then taken over the farms which had been in the family for generations.

During the season we had to provide police cover sometimes twice a week in order to stop hunters & their supporters and the hunt saboteurs from killing each other. Sometimes we even succeeded, though I did get many arrests, from both sides, over the years.

I was pleased that not all rich people & farmers supported foxhunting. With each season the list of landowners who had banned the hunt from their land got longer. Not that the hunt paid much attention. I was always struck by the hypocrisy of a group of people who during the week dialed 999 whenever someone failed to heed the cries of “get orf moy laaand”, but spent the weekends riding roughshod over land over which they had been banned & allowing their dogs to rip pet cats to pieces on the lawns of their own neighbours’ houses.

It did provide for a bit of specialist policing knowledge which was always good for the annual appraisals. There can’t be too many officers with successful convictions for illegal blocking up of badger sets.

The hunt supporters were a bloody menace. We had 4x4s so could go off road to follow the hunt or the ‘sabs’. Most of the supporters just used to drive round the countryside blocking the roads & abandoning their vehicles in the most awkward or dangerous locations.

There were two types of sabs; the well-meaning & slightly delusional group who were mainly students or middle to late-aged women, who turned up week in, week out. And the ‘rent a mob’ group who had been rounded up from miles away with the promise of a few quid & a good punchup.

We were on first-name terms with the first group & often arrested the second.

I once nicked a whole transit load of sabs for driving across a field like some American cowboy, separating a huntsman from the pack & dragging him from his horse to kick him senseless while I watched through binoculars on the other side of the field. I think I had the record for the largest amount of arrests by a single officer in one shift for years.

In fairness to the hunt, they weren’t actually very successful in catching foxes which kind of put a mockery on the claim that foxhunting is an efficient way to deal with the fox ‘problem’.

It used to bring a warm glow to my heart seeing the hunt go charging across the fields in one direction while the fox nonchalantly strolled across the road in front of me in the other.

I always thought if one got close enough I’d open the police car door, let it in & drive it to freedom. But I guess that wouldn’t be acting without fear or favour.