Rob Taylor manager of North Wales Police Rural Crime Team has allowed the 6 months time limit to elapse on a Hunting Act case against the Flint and Denbigh hunt. To say we are furious with him is a understatement.
The incident occurred at Green Isa in Trefnant on 26/9/20 at a cub hunting meet of the Flint and Denbigh hunt. We only had 2 sabs out on the day due to lockdown restrictions and the unusual 3pm start. We had located the hound van at Green Isa at around 2.40 also at the meeting point was the huntsman Robert Medcalf, the whipper-in Toby Dunn and the hunts terrier men, the rest of the field riders had met up in another area just down the road. Not long after we turned up so did the police who stood near us by the gate of Green Isa, they were wanting to count the numbers at the meet following previous reports of illegal gatherings over 30. The huntsman seemed reluctant to set off with ourselves and the police waiting for them. At around 3pm the smokescreen they refer to as “trail layers” came riding down the road from where they had parked up their horseboxes. They were asked by sabs “Where have your trails been laid?” they replied they hadn’t started yet and rode off in the opposite direction to which the hunt were about to head. We headed up the road about 50meters to see if the huntsman had tried to sneak out of Green Isa via a back route. And they had, we saw the whipper-in Toby stood in a gateway at the side of the road looking towards the dismantled railway line where we could hear hounds. Toby’s role here was to watch for the fox being flushed, one sab stood with the whipper-in whilst the other sab drove on a little to try get a better sighting of the huntsman. Toby seemed to see something just over the hedge in the next field and rode off in that directing, the sab still stood in the gateway where Toby had just been standing then witnessed a fox come through the hedge from the field Toby Dunn had headed into, the fox ran across the field and into a small wooded area back at the original meeting point at Green Isa. Usually the sab would have strayed the line of the fox with citronella to mask the scent from the hound, but the citronella was in our vehicle which was driven further down the road. The sab walked across the field to the corner where he could hear the hounds and huntsman, the sab was hoping to send the hounds away from the direction the fox had gone and also let the huntsman know we were onto him. But at this point the hounds came through the hedge and into the field, they started sniffing the ground and picked up on the scent of the fox and followed the foxes line back towards Green Isa. The sab gave a quick blast of the gizmo to try confuse the hounds but it was to no avail they had already picked up on the line of the fox. As the hounds ran towards the small wooded area at Green Isa, Toby Dunn the whipper-in reappeared in the field and headed towards Green Isa. As the sab approached the wooded area a fox bolted out of the wooded area back into the field only about 10meters from the sab, the bodycam footage doesn’t do justice to how close it was. The hounds then came over the fence out of the wooded area in cry after the fox, the huntsman could been seen watching on in a gateway on the dismantled railway line just feet from where the hounds were chasing the fox. Absolutely no attempt was had from the huntsman to call the hounds off, in fact you can hear him hunt them on with his horn……
The incident was reported to the police and footage was submitted, one of the protest liaison officers took a statement and was in agreement a fox was being chased. We explained the 6 months time limit at this point. The liaison officer passed the evidence to the Rural Crime Team, we spoke with a PC Smith who was happy with the evidence and said it would be passed to a specialist department to try get clearer images of the the fox. So far so good….. We were then contacted by PC Smith to say they had gotten a still off the video of the hounds chasing the fox, PC Smith came the visit the sabs to get a signature for the photo to be used as extra evidence in court. PC Smith was very confident this case would be going to court and told us they have a wildlife crime expert at the CPS who would be passed this evidence. Once again we told PC Smith of the 6 months time limit, and he ensured us it wouldn’t run out of time he’s already made a note of this to the CPS. Still everything seemed to be going well……. Our belief was the case was with the CPS and we were just waiting for the huntsman to be charged. Our concerns grew as we still hadn’t heard if the huntsman had been charged. We contacted PC Smith to say the time limit is running out, he did reply straight away saying it was now with his line manager (Rob Taylor) and we’d get an update this week….. Then yesterday we received a call from a police liaison officer who had put a lot of work in himself on this case. Rob Taylor the rural crime time manager had messed up the case, he had allowed the time limit to expire!! Our understanding is the CPS had asked for more evidence to be sent, but for some reason Taylor had requested a statement from the so called “trail layer” we had already supplied them with a video of the “trail layer” telling us no trails had been laid. But why was Taylor even asking for a statement from the “trail layer”? This was not what the CPS had asked him for and it’s not his job to act as the hunts defence. The role of the police here was to gather evidence for the prosecution against the hunt not take statements from who the hunt may call as witnesses in court. Even more remarkable Taylor did get the statement from the “trail layer” 10 days before the time limit elapsed yet did not send it to the CPS. We haven’t had a response from Taylor or the Rural crime Team yet but officers in North Wales Police are furious with what has happened here. A police complaint will be logged in the near future. It’s not the first time something like this has happened regarding the Rural Crime Team with Taylor once publicly denying the existence of Operation Yarder.