Badger sniffing daisies. Photo: Sally Longstaff via Flickr.com.
Badger cull - police face public grilling from Commissioner
9th May 2014
Days after our exposé of a policing disaster at England's 2013 badger culls, the Police Commissioner for Gloucestershire is to question the county's most senior police officers. The event will be video-streamed online.
Having spoken to all sides - before, during and after the event - it is clear they believe the police have questions to answer.
Following The Ecologist's report this week of serious errors in the policing of the 2013 badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire, officers face a public questioning on Monday evening.
Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl is to quiz senior officers over the Constabulary's handling of last year's pilot badger cull in the county.
Widespread police failures identified
Allegations made in The Ecologist include the police's failure to identity, report or prosecute offences, including:
- serious firearms offences committed by marksmen and cull supporters;
- assaults against badger defenders, including one incident in which a vehicle was deliberately driven at and struck a peaceful protestor;
- a failure to enforce the applicable gun licencing requirements;
- the fraudulent inclusion of badger roadkill in cullers' bags;
- the killing of badgers from outside the cull area, to be included in cullers' bags.
It is also alleged that officers of the National Farmers Union were in effective charge of the operation at times, joining officers in the control room and providing officers with often inaccurate legal information - calling into question police impartiality.
Chief Constable faces a grilling
Among the officers to be questioned is Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, in charge of 'Operation Themis', the Constabulary's name for the cull policy strategy. Other senior officers involved in the operation will also be present.
The meeting is to be held in the Council Chamber at Stroud District Council at 6pm on Monday May 12. Officers will be questioned via video link from their own homes. The meeting will be closed to the public but will be video-streamed using webcams.
"Now that the dust has settled and the police are preparing for the next phase of the cull, I think the time is right to raise some of the issues arising from last year's cull", Commissioner Surl told the Western Daily Press.
The police have questions to answer
"Having spoken to all sides - before, during and after the event - it is clear they believe the police have questions to answer.
"My own view is that very few people - pro-cull lobbyists, campaigners, activists and sympathisers on either side of the argument - rarely understood the role of the police and we also need to get to the bottom of that before phase two of the cull begins later in the year.
"One of the important aspects of my job is to hold the police to account. My aim is to be as open and transparent as possible and this is the best way of achieving that".
Video stream: http://www.strouddc.public-i.tv/core/ at 6pm on Monday 12th May.
The Ecologist article: 'Police, Guns, Action - how safe were the pilot badger culls?' by Lesley Docksey.
Western Daily Press article: 'Police quizzed about roll in badger cull live on line'.
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