I refer to:
Section ‘A’ of the Home Office Counting Rules
'Section 96 Wildlife Crime Miscellaneous crimes against society'
Please respond to the following:
1. Why is there no reference to the Hunting Act in Item C listed above?
2. Due to the absence of the Hunting Act from Item C, breaches of the Hunting Act such as cubbing (also known as cubhunting, hound exercise and autumn hunting) and illegal foxhunting instead of trailhunting are not recorded as crimes when reported.
According to Item B above:
'The Police Act 1996 Section 44 (2 and 3) states that the Home Secretary can require chief constables of forces in England and Wales to provide statistical data. He or she can also specify the form in which these data are given.
The Home Secretary uses these powers to require chief constables to give regular data on the number of crimes they record. These data must be recorded in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR).These rules aim to bring more consistency to the process of creating and maintaining crime records at force level.
The HOCR also promote a victim-oriented approach (PDF document) to crime recording. This means that a belief by the victim that a crime has occurred is, in most cases, enough to justify its recording as a crime.'
How is a member of the public reporting, for example, illegal cubhunting to be assured that police can and will treat the report as a crime to be investigated when police have no reference under HOCR Section A to categorise the reported incident as part of crime data gathering? The omission creates an anomaly which implies that crimes such as cubhunting do not exist when in fact they do exist but are excluded from statistics. This results in a significant mismatch between public expectation of crime reporting and the investigative limitations placed upon police due to the omission from HOCR Section A.
Does your office intend to remedy this significant omission in order to ensure a uniform standard of Crime Recording Decision Making across all forces?
3. Item F has addressed issues of crime recording in an eminently logical and practical manner.
Do you intend to use the analysis included within Item F to unify and streamline the reporting of all wildlife crime, including cubhunting, illegal foxhunting, hare coursing, badger baiting and all wild animal offences, so that ALL reports of wildlife crime are given the same level of importance in terms of investigation and, if necessary, prosecution?
4. I am in possession of APHA responses to FOI requests (which I will be happy to supply copies of) that verify there have been no imports of trail fluid to the UK since the Hunting Act became law in 2005.
At the present time police forces do not, when responding to reports from the public of illegal foxhunting, ask hunts for details of the trail fluid used by them when trailhunting turns into illegal foxhunting and deaths of wild mammals. To my knowledge, no hunt has ever openly and transparently produced a sample for police investigations or any proofs of purchase, and I have enquired widely on the subject.
Are you able to advise police on the wisdom and usefulness of resolving this key issue as part of standard investigative procedures? Given the APHA records, there is doubt in the public mind that trailhunting as a legal activity can exist when trail fluid is not imported for use in that activity.
Dear S Rhosier,
Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.
This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 56014). We will aim to
send you a full response by 15/11/2019 which is twenty working days from
the date we received your request.
If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.
Further to our e-mail below, please be aware that the decision has been
taken to handle your correspondence outside the provisions of the Freedom
of Information Act as a piece of Treat Official correspondence.
As a result, case ref.: 56014 has been cancelled and you should expect to
receive a response in due course.
This is now overdue.
When may I expect a response?
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