Anti-hunt campaigners to spend over £1m in bid to collar offenders

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A LEADING animal welfare charity is to invest more than a million pounds in a scheme to catch people illegally hunting.

The League Against Cruel Sports will announce today that it will spend £1m over the next four years on hiring investigations staff and equipment to gather evidence and get hunts into court. The work is expected to include hidden cameras in hunting areas.

The announcement comes just days after the Countryside Alliance published figures showing that only a handful of people had been prosecuted under the Hunting Act since it was introduced in 2005. The League Against Cruel Sports claims that three quarters of the public support the ban and that the majority of hunts are flouting the law.

“This is the seventh hunting season under the ban, but all the evidence suggests that hunts are getting more lawless than ever,” said Joe Duckworth, the League’s chief executive.

“Appointing investigations officers around the country will enable us to increase our efforts in gathering evidence for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.”

The League employs retired police officers who review evidence and provide training on the Hunting Act to serving officers.

It also runs a Hunt Crimewatch service, gathering intelligence on hunt related crime, and passes information to police forces.

“Our focus is not only on the illegal hunting, but on all the crimes committed by the hunts,” said Mr Duckworth.

“Hunts cause all manner of anti-social behaviour, from blocking roads, running hounds down railway tracks, and savaging pets in people’s gardens. This pernicious side of hunting is often unseen but it has the biggest effect of people in rural communities.”