Following the disorder at the Boxing Day Hunt held in Lacock on 27 December 2021, when a number of people were arrested, we undertook a review of our policing approach to identify any organisational learning from the event.
The review was conducted by a College of Policing (COP) trained de-brief officer and the final report was submitted to the Wiltshire Police Executive Leadership Team (ELT).
The review makes a number of recommendations, all of which have been endorsed by the ELT. These are summarised below:
Improved engagement with organisers of hunts prior to the event being held to allow full consideration of an appropriate policing response
Improved engagement with protest groups prior to events being held to allow full consideration of an appropriate policing response
Employ a model of engagement and risk assessment for the full 2022/23 hunting season to allow for appropriate planning
Ensure appropriate terminology is used when describing different groups
Body Worn Cameras should be fully utilised when officers attend such events for the purpose of evidence gathering and transparency
Improved guidance to managers to support operational colleagues in attendance at such events
Further develop the intelligence capability relating to such events.
In line with these recommendations, we wrote to every hunt operating within our Force area early in November, asking for their co-operation and support to work with us to overcome any tensions around hunting. We have engaged with many of the hunts following their receipt of the letter.
Public safety is always our top priority and we must ensure that our policing response to events such as this is proportionate, well considered and based on the risks posed to the public.
We respect the rights of all groups to peaceful protest and the expectation is for all groups that attend hunts to be non-confrontational. We will act impartially and will not hesitate to take appropriate action against any organisation, group or individual who break the law.
For those who witness what they believe to illegal activity it is important that reports are made in the proper way by calling 101/999 or report to an officer in attendance; supporting video or photographic evidence should be provided in full and without editing.