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The social structure of badger families is perturbed by the loss of a single member, and this can cause the spread of any TB they may be harbouring. Photo: Tim Brookes via Flickr.
The social structure of badger families is perturbed by the loss of a single member, and this can cause the spread of any TB they may be harbouring. Photo: Tim Brookes via Flickr.
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NFU and cull companies out of police control rooms

The Ecologist

18th August 2014

Avon & Somerset police say that National Farmers Union and cull company representatives will be excluded from the control room in the 2014 cull. Their presence in control rooms in the 2013 cull caused a major loss of public confidence in the policing operation.

Public confidence was lost since these companies have clearly defined vested interests in making the cull appear successful.

Superintendent Kevin Instance, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, and a Silver Commander responsible for on the ground policing if the badger cull goes ahead this year, has told representatives from Somerset Against the Badger Cull (SABC) and Somerset Badger Patrol (SBP) that "we will not have the NFU or cull companies in our control room this year."

The announcement was made at the Colchester March on 16th August 2014 - to the great relief of many of those who oppose the badger cull. Organisers from the two groups said:

"We had a very constructive meeting with Avon & Somerset Constabulary recently in order to discuss operational procedures surrounding the proposed badger cull this year.

"It's the latest of several meetings we've had over the last few months and we will be meeting with the police again to discuss other matters prior to the onset of the cull."

'Major concerns' arose

They add that the police understand that there were major concerns among protestors and the wider public about the NFU and operatives from the cull companies working in close proximity to members of the police in a small operational room during such a sensitive period.

As a result, say the groups, "public confidence was lost since these companies have clearly defined vested interests in making the cull appear successful.

"We also believe they might have been able to collect private data on our independent monitors, patrollers and observers and this is deeply worrying. Although the police reassured us that this didn't happen last year, we're delighted that we don't have to worry about it again this year."

Ignorance of the law, and poor support from control rooms

Another problem that emerged is that the police failed to act against cull operatives even where they appeared to be be breaking the law, as documented on The Ecologist.

For example, marksmen have been reported as pursuing badgers with loaded rifles outside areas licenced for culling, and in proximity to protestors and other members of the public.

Part of this came down to ignorance of the law governing the cull operation among police on the ground, and ignorance of the terms of the licence to kill badgers granted by Natural England.

However an additional factor may have been poor support and guidance from police control rooms, resulting from the NFU and cull company presence and the obvious conflict of interest this created.

'Every shred of scientific credibility has been lost'

While the anti-cull groups welcome the move by Somerset & Avon police, they continue to oppose the culls going ahead at all.

"We are very sad that the Government persists in driving the culls forward despite the Independent Expert Panel's damning report that the culls last year were ineffective and inhumane", they say.

"This year, every shred of scientific credibility has been lost from the badger cull and our members will be out day and night to monitor what goes on."

The Badger Trust has received leave for a Judicial Review of the badger cull. On Thusday this week (21st August 2014) it will tell the High Court that the cull is unlawful due to the government's failure to appoint independent expert scrutineers of the cull, and its safety, humaneness and effectiveness.

The Independent Expert Panel, which carried out this role in 2013 and expressed some powerful criticism of the cull's conduct, has not been re-appointed to that role.

 


 

High Court gathering against the badger cull this Thursday at the Royal Courts of Justice, noon - 5pm. More information.

 

 

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