SIR – Media coverage of rural crime has placed emphasis on criminal elements that terrorise rural communities and who act within a vacuum of light touch judicial application. Overlooked is another stream of rural terrorism that is legal in nature and arrogant by breeding.
Every hunting season brings the visit by the local hunt on horseback or on foot to rural areas causing distress to people and damage by those who refuse to acknowledge that their activity is not welcome in the area and that access to private property is denied to them.
Contrary to popular belief, hunts do not have any special rights to cross lands as and when they please. Hunts have no rights to enter or cross the vast majority of land and/or property in this country. This inconvenient truth is ignored by many who believe they have a legal right to trespass in their pursuit of an animal kill.
Over the years, the actions of some hunt followers have been well documented with cases of damage to private property, crop damage, killing of pets, worrying of livestock, alleged assaults of landowners and hunt monitors from animal welfare organisations.
Many of these incidents have failed to see the inside of the court due to light touch or non-existent policing. Should these incidents enter the court system, it would not be unusual for the local hunt to ignore court findings against them.
It is left to farmers and non-farming rural dwellers to deal with the problem. They have to work the legal system at their own expense to get these people off their property or, in the event of an incident, to seek damages.
Rural crime is not always carried out by criminals drawn from a dodgy postal code area arriving in a rural area.
Association of Hunt
PO Box 4734,