Derbyshire police have hit back after an organisation claimed the force had a ‘poor record on dealing with wildlife crime’.
Last month, the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) released a video online which apparently showed a hunt master committing alleged crimes against badgers in Derbyshire.
The Derbyshire Rural Crime Team saw the video and requested HIT to liaise with Derbyshire Constabulary so police could ‘investigate properly’.
Officers this week said HIT’s ‘lack of contact with police and refusal to release unedited footage indicates that criminal prosecutions and the truth are not among their priorities' – and confirmed the investigation was no longer active at this time.
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A HIT spokesperson told us: “We chose not to involve Derbyshire police directly in this case because they have a poor record on dealing with wildlife crime when it relates to hunting and grouse shooting.”
But a Derbyshire Constabulary spokesperson responded: “We take all reports of wildlife related crime seriously. It is our role to establish the truth of what has happened and submit evidence based on facts – not conjecture or half-truths.
“In seeking the truth about an alleged crime we will speak to all those that may be involved – be that as a victim, witness or perpetrator – and nobody is above the law.
“In recent months we have had many prosecutions relating to a wide range of offences. In April earlier this year a 25-year-old from Buxton was handed a suspended sentence for killing a badger; while in July a 30-year-old man from Stoke was found guilty of hunting hares on Bleaklow in the High Peak.
“In both these cases, as with any that are reported to us, we actively, and positively, worked with those reporting the offences to bring about successful prosecutions.”
'We have followed all the procedures and protocols'
The HIT spokesperson added: “All the evidence in this case – edited and unedited – was passed to the RSPCA and dealt with by one of their wildlife officers.
“The RSPCA are an enforcement agency and were the right people to take this case forward.
“We believed that they would be accompanied by the police when they visited (the suspect) but for reasons known only to them they decided not to involve Derbyshire police in this case.
“The RSPCA must speak for themselves in this instance and if they see fit give an account of the decisions they took.
“We have followed all the procedures and protocols in this case.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “As the police have confirmed, they have requested the footage from the organisation which filmed it, not from the RSPCA.
“We would only bring a prosecution if there was compelling evidence.
“In this instance the footage did not show an offence being committed, however an inspector visited and gave advice about the legal use of traps.”
On Facebook, HIT states it is ‘committed to exposing the truth behind fox hunting and other cruel sports’.