Tag Archive | marksmen

Police kept badger cullers informed of protester movements, court hears

From The Guardian

Animal rights groups criticise police after marksman reveals officers kept him informed about the location of protesters

Photograph: Mike Kemp/ Mike Kemp/ /In Pictures/Corbis

Photograph: Mike Kemp/ Mike Kemp/ /In Pictures/Corbis

Animal rights campaigners have criticised police after a marksman involved in the badger cull said officers kept him informed of the location of protesters.

The claim was made during a court hearing involving David McIntosh, who was taken to court for crashing a van full of dead badgers into a bus stop during a cull in Gloucestershire.

McIntosh, 28, who played Tornado on TV show Gladiators and dated the model and television presenter Kelly Brook, told Stroud magistrates the crash was caused when a radio he used to receive messages from police fell under his foot pedals.

He said: “I was carrying badger carcasses to the furnace as I was involved in the cull. The radio was always kept in the vehicle on the dashboard so we could easily hear and keep up with police as to where the protesters were.

“It was blocking the clutch and the brake. Before I retrieved it I was heading off the road. I started to brake but it was too late.”

Gloucestershire police promised throughout the cull to deal with both protesters and cullers fairly, showing neither group favouritism.

He admitted driving without due care and attention and was fined £91.

On McIntosh’s claims, a police spokeswoman said: “At no point did Gloucestershire constabulary co-ordinate the resources of the company carrying out the badger cull.

“Our role before, during and after the pilot badger cull was to maintain operational independence and ensure the safety of the public.” The court was told that the accident happened in Gloucester city centre just before 1am on 29 September.

Anti-cull protesters demonstrated outside the court and questioned why the cullers had apparently been in direct contact with the police.

Jude Walker, of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, said: “It certainly goes against what we have always been told about the police being even handed.”

Article

 

Badger cull: government could be forced to take direct control of pilot

Concern over low number of animals shot so far has led government to seek legal advice on taking direct control from farmers

www.theguardian.com 2013-9-13 23 15 8

The government is on the verge of being forced to take over the controversial badger culls in England from farmers because the low number of animals shot so far risks the policy seriously failing.

The Guardian understands that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has sought urgent legal advice on how to bring the night-time shooting under its direct control, and has even discussed using gassing as a more effective method of culling.

A Defra spokesman, however, denied any discussions had taken place about the department taking control. “There have been no discussions or considerations about Defra taking over the badger cull pilots. The pilots are being carried out by licensed companies and this will not change,” he said.

On Wednesday night, according to information leaked to the Guardian, marksmen failed to kill any animals at at all. This week, the government refused to deny claims that fewer than 100 badgers had been killed in two weeks of shooting in the Somerset cull zone.

The badger cull pilots, aimed at curbing the rise in bovine tuberculosis (TB) which caused 28,000 cattle to be slaughtered in 2012, must eliminate 70% of the badgers in each zone, or risk increasing TB as fleeing badgers spread the disease further afield. But the Guardian’s sources said far too few badgers were being shot in the opening weeks of the six-week trials.

Ministers chose the more difficult option of shooting of free-running badgers at night over the more reliable cage-trapping and shooting because the former is significantly less expensive.

The Guardian’s sources also said the possibility of gassing badgers had been discussed. A government strategy on eradicating TB, released in July included consideration of gassing if humane methods could be developed. Gassing with cyanide was outlawed in 1982.

“The failing badger cull could make the public forest sell-off debacle look politically painless,” a source told the Guardian, referring the embarrassing U-turn on the planned sell-off of England’s forests. “That is largely because every problem so far [with the cull] was first outlined in briefings and advice to ministers and ignored.”

Badgers are being shot in pilot cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset to test whether free shooting can kill sufficient numbers and do so humanely. But the number of badgers killed in the Somerset cull zone is just three or four a night, according to a source quoted by the Western Morning News.

“They are having major problems. It is just a case now of who gets the blame for the whole thing failing,” the source said.

The Guardian understands that the total number of badgers killed so far is now more than 100, but is far below the 120-per-day average that would be needed to meet the minimum final quotas across both of the zones.

A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said it was “premature” to talk of crisis, as the cull had several weeks to run, and a Defra spokesman said: “We are not commenting on operational details.”

The Guardian previously revealed that, according to experts, the population estimates for badgers in the cull zones are so uncertain that every badger in the area could be killed and the minimum quota would not be met.

Mark Jones, a veterinarian and executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “It comes as no surprise that the badger cull is failing in its efforts to devastate badger populations in the pilot areas. This unjustified policy has been a shambles from the outset. The government must abandon this travesty that has already cost farmers and the taxpayer dear and caused deep divisions within our communities.”

The culls have sparked the biggest animal rights protests since fox hunting with dogs was outlawed, with more than 300,000 people signing a government e-petition against the cull. But ministers have insisted the cull is a necessary part of bovine TB control measures which cost taxpayers £100m a year for TB testing and farmer compensation.

Many scientific experts oppose the cull, calling it a “mindless” and “costly distraction” from developing vaccines for cattle and badgers and tightening cattle movement regulations and farm biosecurity.

Jones said Defra was also now in breach of a decision from the information commissioner, who ordered the department to release information under freedom of information rules to HSI UK on exactly how “humaneness” was to be measured and assessed during the pilot culls. He said the legally binding deadlines for Defra to release the information, or appeal the decision, have both passed.

Some information on humaneness was released and reported by the Guardian, including that the sounds made by dying badgers was part of the assessment. But the documents were heavily redacted and the IC ruled this redacted information should be revealed.

Jones said: “We can only assume Defra knows that independent scrutiny would find the methodology to be full of holes.”

Article

Also see: Badger cull in Somerset: on the trail of the marksmen – video

“Wargames” with the Police helps us produce a Legal Guide

www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/13/badger-cull-activists-protests-police

Whenever a police force approaches a grass roots direct action group to have a chat, the alarm bells should start ringing. In this particular case they wanted more than a chat, they wanted us to show them how we planned to behave, in return we would get to see how they planned to respond to us.

Police officers and anti-badger cull activist play war game ahead of badger cull

It would be naive to think that the police would reveal to us their actual level of policing, response times, crimes they were looking for etc. So it seemed on the face of it that we had nothing to gain and possibly something to lose, however we were allowed to bring in an independent adjudicator and decided it might be worth doing if we could get press out of it. Especially as  we would only be disclosing the tactics that are discussed quite regularly in a number of places:

1. Disrupting the illegal shooting of badgers, with bright lights and noise (not fireworks).

2. The monitoring and filming of the legal shooting of badgers, where we have been instructed that land has been licensed, of course we would have to make our presence known to the marksman to ensure public safety, this would be our intention. As to “have the intention of stopping a lawful activity” is a criminal offence.

With noise they considered “the harassment act” and “breach of the peace” for arrests.

Sections 50 and Sections 60 of the public order act, but they didn’t mention “aggravated trespass

During the “table top exercise” police didn’t think an offence could be committed if no noise was used, It is difficult to say you were “alarmed or distressed” by a torch being used across a field at night.

The police were unable to tell us which farms are licenced under the cull and which aren’t.

As this information is being kept secret, it is impossible for us to know whether badger killing on a particular farm is legal or not.

Below we shall go through each of these pieces of legislations, we would encourage everyone to do their own research & remember  Hunt Sabs go out every week all across the country during hunting season, they do often encounter police officers but there are very few convictions, as few as 3 in an entire year for “aggravated trespass” So don’t be scared by all these different offences, arm yourself with knowledge and you can steer clear convictions and successfully stop the cull using direct action.

Aggravated Trespass” This law was created just to try and stop hunt sabs:

A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land , does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—

(a)of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,

(b)of obstructing that activity, or

(c)of disrupting that activity.

The intention of the direct action is to disrupt the shooting of badgers which is illegal, the fact that a cull may be licenced during “some” time, on “some” land in a vague area, does not make shooting badgers legal, it may well be that within the cull zone some farmers have not paid into the cull but have decided to shoot badgers anyway thinking that no one would know, but even if they are legit, we are not to know where that zone is and which land is paid up and legal.

It is perfectly lawful upon seeing a group of people with guns to shout to them “stop shooting, we believe you are acting unlawfully and you are now under citizens arrest and must wait for the police” This would be a particularly good tactic if the police happened to be behind you as it would be making your intention very clear; that you are looking at stopping the illegal killing of badgers.

If it is made clear to us where the cull is taking place legally, we will endeavour to publish the boundaries of those pieces of land, so that everyone knows where it is taking place. If you want to help stop the cull, we would encourage you to go to these places to monitor and film the killing of badgers, using cree led torches and videocameras. If you feel that you need to use noise to make any marksman aware of your position to ensure your own and others safety then that is a perfectly lawful intention, if it has the effect of scaring badgers away from bait points, thats ok, as long as that was not your intention!

General advice for dealing with the police is to say “no comment”, you may well come across some police who seem like thoroughly nice people, however they are wasting your time AND can be very tricky, for example:

Police officer: “Isn’t it terrible about these badgers, we are right behind you. Are you going to try and stop the shooting?”

You: “yes, we are going over there and hopefully we can distract them from slaughtering badgers”

Police officer: “you are under arrest”

Keep it short and polite:

Police officer: “My daughter is a vegetarian, I think its terrible, where are you heading?”

you: “I am walking the highways & footpaths as is my right, good night” and keep walking.

You have nothing to gain from chatting to police officers, a badger could literally be shot in the few minutes you spend chatting to them trying to present a polite front.

the harassment act

Prohibition of harassment.

(1)A person must not pursue a course of conduct—

(a)which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b)which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

(2)For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

(3)Subsection (1) does not apply to a course of conduct if the person who pursued it shows—

(a)that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,

(b)that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or

(c)that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

A “course of conduct” means that at least two incidents have happened to an individual, for example a marksman could say:

“at 9.30pm someone shouted at me to stop killing badgers, I was scared, the person shouting had flourescent trousers, I jumped on my quad bike and drove on to the next bait point. 30 minutes later the same person screamed at me, I was scared” This could happen over ANY time frame, half an hour or 3 weeks/months.

To avoid being arrested for Harassment a very simple method is to wear the same  clothing as everyone else, this makes it much harder for anyone to identify you.

Combat trousers (or black trousers)

Black hooded top

Yellow Hi-Viz Jacket (these fold up small)

Cut off the arm of a black t-shirt if you don’t want to be filmed and recognised, put this cut off arm round your neck and pull it up whenever you need it. You can at a push use a complete t-shirt

This goes for most offences, if you can’t be identified then the legal system comes to a halt. By not giving marksman or police officers any identifying factors about yourself as you travel around the zone you protect not only yourself but others who are dressed like you.

This picture is taken from 8th of June 2013, Sabs walked all over several shooting estates, no arrests were made and if they had, it would have been impossible to say who had done what.

Which brings us on to section 60 of the Public order act an act that has to be put in place by a senior police officer, to cover a specific area for no more than 48 hours, for the purposes of protesting it is used to stop facial coverings being used, An officer can ask you to remove a facial covering if this is in place and arrest you if you refuse, it is not until AFTER you have been arrested that you have to take off a disguise. Ask to see copies of the order, where it covers and when it was signed and by whom.

Section 50 of the public order act may be used so that police officers can try and gather intelligence on who is demonstrating and where they are from, by threatening to arrest them if they don’t give them their name an address, this is done when a crime is believed to be taking place similar  to Section 5 of the public order act:

A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a)uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling.

(3)It is a defence for the accused to prove—

(a)that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or

(b)that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or

(c)that his conduct was reasonable.

Offences would include swearing such as “you f#$*ing murderer” but if no such offences have taken place, then a section 50 cannot be legally used, if you are told that you must give your name and adress under this section insist on finding out what anti-social behaviour is taking place, generally when police know that you understand “section 50 of the public order act” fully they may leave you alone.

breach of the peace

Is not  a criminal offence so you would not end up with a criminal record.

We would urge everyone to read up on these offences, so that everyone can feel confident that they are acting within the law, the police have been known to say to people “You have to leave the area” or “you have to take off the face covering” and they particularly like to try and get information about you, where your from etc. thats why its so important to know your rights.

Police do occasionally arrest people just to be seen to be doing something, if you are at the receiving end of that sort of behaviour, you could like many hundreds of people before you, be liable to a compensation payment from the police of thousands of pounds.

To stay broadly within the law:

Don’t swear or threaten anyone (section 5 of Public order act)

Don’t declare the intention of stopping a lawful activity (aggravated trespass)

Safety should be paramount for all parties, make sure that shooters are aware of your location.

Wear the same clothes as everyone else, this protects everyone, if you can’t run across fields stopping badgers from being killed, wear the same clothes of those that do, by standing shoulder to shoulder we can stop the cull.

“We are treading a line between the parties,” said  Police Inspector Ravenscroft. “Public safety is paramount to everybody involved. We could request that the culling company stop activity on the ground on a particular night to safeguard public safety.”

With 300 of us we can make it difficult for them, with 500 of us we can be at most crossroads and hundreds of observation points which should bring the cull to a grinding halt within a week, With a thousand of us, we will stop it immediately.

Don’t wait for someone else to organise; find friends, prepare, be ready..

Link

Related links:

Whitehall chiefs scan Twitter to head off badger protests

Police say they’re ready to deal with badger cull in Gloucestershire

Govt guidelines on slaughtering badgers

Click pic to view (PDF)

Click pic to view the PDF (Government website)

Cull saboteurs: ‘We will put ourselves between the bullets and the badgers’

Lynn, a 46-year-old midwife, finds a novel way to fill her days off. The one-time hunter is now a hunt saboteur who finds herself at the centre of the Government’s controversial badger cull. She splits her time between maternity wards and patrolling country estates of Worcestershire.

She is just one of an estimated 700 saboteurs who are fighting the plan to use licensed marksmen to shoot around 5,000 badgers in two pilot cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Around 500 of them are prepared to trespass on property to disrupt the cull.  “Obviously at night we’ll be finding the marksmen and putting ourselves between the bullets and the badgers,” Lynn told The Independent.

Image1The badger cull row tearing up the countryside shows no sign of dissipating. While ministers argue that a cull is necessary to curb the spread of tuberculosis in cattle; critics argue that the cull is unethical or scientifically and economically flawed.

The coalition of opponents might be diverse – it includes Queen guitarist Brian May, TV presenter David Attenborough, and some prominent scientists – but it is the hunt saboteurs who stand accused of directing a “reign of terror” on farmers.

But Lynn believes they have been unfairly smeared. “The typical stereotypical image of the hunt sab is someone dressed head-to-toe in black, someone who doesn’t work, a 20-something-year-old male, but that’s absolute nonsense. The farming industry makes us out to be terrorists, or all evil people, but we’re individuals,” she said.

Lynn, who has a number of animal rights convictions for her involvement in anti-hunting and anti-vivisection campaigns, founded the group 3 Counties Hunt Saboteurs, last year. She gave up hunting after she saw some “terrible things” done to foxes, deer, hares and mink. She said that “very committed” new people were joining the “sabs”, or saboteurs, and scouring the fields straight from work.

“We’re seeing doctors, teachers, all sorts of people,” said Lynn, who can spend up to 50 hours a week checking badger setts, organising volunteers, or doing outreach. She also works as a midwife on a shift basis at a local hospital, usually at night. “I’m actually quite open about things,” she said. “Some of my colleagues do know, just as I am aware of what they do out of work.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism at the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last year that clashes between protesters and cullers could pose “clear potential harm to public safety”. He added that there was “some potential for unlawful direct action, disorder and criminality” if the cull went ahead.

This week it emerged that officers policing the culls have carried out “wargames” with animal rights activists and cullers to simulate confrontations that might occur. Inspector Mark Ravenscroft of Gloucestershire Police said enforcing the cull remained a “big concern.” He stressed that the force will “allow people to bend the law to protest peacefully” by allowing a short protest on a highway, for example, to stop a group blocking the road all day.

But Elaine, a 49-year-old social care worker, who has volunteered as a hunting sab for over 25 years, said saboteurs “were not aggressors”. The Herefordshire-born activist treads a thin line between horse-owning country enthusiast and animal-rights crusader.

“I ride, I have my own horses, and I have drag hunted, but I was brought up to love and respect animals,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to go out in a balaclava. Work knows what I’m like and they don’t mind.”

She denied sabs were using intimidating techniques and dismissed claims that by trespassing, she could be breaching the law. “Whatever [the cull] is doing is 100 times worse that what I’m doing. When it comes to saving lives, if I have to tread off a footpath to do it, it’s worth it,” she said.

Michael, who is in his late sixties and has seven grandchildren, wants to help stop the cull. The retired builder lives in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and has been involved in animal rights for 50 years. The former trustee of a wildlife rescue centre said: “This unscientific experiment they’re doing is wrong. I’ll help as much as I can; [the grandchildren] are right behind me. I spend four out of five days a week surveying and mapping sites, and checking setts aren’t baited. We’ve definitely got public support.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “People have a right to protest but this must be carried out within the law. The pilot culls are a legal and lawful activity and it is wholly unacceptable that those involved should be subject to intimidation or be a target for criminal activity.”

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