West Mercia Police

I am in possession of an official police document which states:

The Code of Ethics and Police Regulations
16. The code of ethics relates to officers being associated to groups or activities.
17. 6.3 of the codes states “Memberships of groups or societies, or associations
with groups or individuals, must not create an actual or apparent conflict of
interest with police work and responsibilities”.
18. 6.4 states “The test is whether a reasonably informed member of the public
might reasonably believe that your membership or association could
adversely affect your ability to discharge your policing duties effectively and
impartially”.
19. The College of Policing Integrity and Ethics Team have stated that the topic
has never come up before and that 6.4 above should be considered. They
have not provided any additional guidance.
20. Police regulations do not offer any guidance in relation to this matter. The
Anti-Corruption Unit has considered whether officers should tell the
organisation that they hunt in relation to notifiable associations within Police
Regulations. They have said that it would be inappropriate to proactively ask
members of staff about their associations with hunts on the basis that it’s a
lawful activity.
21. As a comparator, membership of the Freemasons has long been a
contentious issue, there is not currently however legal basis upon which to
require police officers or staff to declare Freemasonry membership. This is
the case for Hunting both locally and nationally.

To paraphrase from the above - as a reasonably informed member of the public, I reasonably (based upon direct personal experience over considerable time) believe that serving officers with membership of or association with foxhunts or foxhunting voluntarily place themselves in situations where such membership or association adversely affects their ability to discharge their policing duties effectively and impartially.

Most particularly and obviously so when such officers are attached to rural crime teams; I am given to understand that rural crime work is taken on voluntarily and in addition to an officer’s core duties.

Laudable though this is, it raises the ethical question of an officer or officers with hunt membership or association being tasked to investigate allegations of lawbreaking by a hunt and hunt members with whom the officer(s) has or have contact outside of official police duties. I regard this in its mildest form as a demonstrable conflict of interest and at worst as raising reasonable doubts as to that officer(s) impartiality; a matter which could be open to misinterpretation by hunt members and supporters as well as those opposed to hunting in any form, legal or otherwise.

1. Please advise what steps have been taken within your force to ensure that a Code of Ethics exists which makes provision for conflicts of interest in matters where allegations of illegal hunting or cub hunting have been made.

2. Please advise if officers seeking to work on rural crime teams should be requested to voluntarily declare any membership of or association with hunts, regardless of hunting within the parameters of the Hunting Act 2004 being legal; such declarations being seen as goodwill and in the spirit of keeping your force from disrepute in the public mind.

S Rhosier

Information Compliance, West Mercia Police

 
Dear Sir or Madam
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: WMP 12676
 
I write in connection with your request for West Mercia Police information
which was dated and received on 1st October 2019.
 
Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act). 
 
Please note that due to an unprecedented number of requests being received
for subject access and FOI, for the foreseeable future requests are now
being triaged and addressed in the following order; Subject Access
requests and then FOI requests.  Every effort will be made to meet our
statutory timescales for responses, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing a reference to a third party. and we ask for your
understanding.
We will aim to provide the information within 20 working days as required
by the Freedom of Information Act.
 
There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information you request.  If this is the case you will be informed and
the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment
from you. If you chose not to make payment then your request will remain
unanswered.
 
Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.
 
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or telephone the Information Compliance Unit quoting the reference number
above.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
Information Compliance Administrator
Information Compliance Unit
Warwickshire Police & West Mercia Police
P O Box 55
Hindlip  WR3 8SP
 
DD 01905 331545 (Ext. 2545)
 
 
 

Information Compliance, West Mercia Police

1 Atodiad

 
Dear Sir or Madam
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST REFERENCE NO: 12676 
I write in connection with your request for information received on 1st
October 2019.
In order to be able to respond to your request I require further
information from you. Please would you clarify:- what recorded information
you are requesting?
 
After receiving your reply, your request will then be considered and you
will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of
20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject
to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party.
However, if the requested additional information has not been received by
31st October 2019 I will assume you no longer wish to proceed with this
request and will treat it as withdrawn.
There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information you request. If this is the case you will be informed and
the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment
from you. If you chose not to make a payment then your request will remain
unanswered.
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please write
or telephone the Information Compliance Unit quoting the reference number
above.
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
Information Compliance Administrator
Information Compliance Unit
Warwickshire Police & West Mercia Police
P O Box 55
Hindlip  WR3 8SP
 
DD 01905 331545 (Ext. 2545)