Hunting Bill - dogs banned but not leopards, lions or horses.

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The Hunting Bill is another badly drafted bit of proposed legislation.

The Telegraph article "Cameras in the trees will spy on hunts"

"Police chiefs warned the Home Secretary that enforcing the ban would cost in excess of ?30 million and divert resources from front-line policing. The plan to use cameras was put forward as a way of detecting illegal hunts without deploying hundreds of extra police to roam the countryside.

Some senior police have voiced concern that the measure could be easily foiled by riders and foot followers donning balaclavas.

Mr Blunkett, however, was said to be enthusiastic about the idea, believing that cameras would be an affordable way of allowing police to identify where illegal hunts are taking place before moving in.

An aide said: "This is the sort of imaginative policing solution that we will need to be able to police this ban, without incurring massive extra costs.""

This is the sort of ill thought out, uncosted, "technology as magic solution to a social problem" rubbish which we now , unfortunately , have come to expect from the Home Office.

David Blunkett and the Home Office seem to be obsessed with installing ever more surveillance technology, which they obviously do not actually understand, as if it offers some cheap fix to social problems. The only surprise is that they are not calling for the use of "satellite tagging" of foxes or hounds or horses or humans, perhaps that will be the next "bold initiative" ?

If these spy cameras are to be sited on private land, then the Home Secretary or a Senior Police Officer is going to have to authorise intrusive surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, these powers should only be used for serious crimes. None of the offences under the Hunting Bill are classed as serious i.e. such as would merit a 3 year prison sentence for a first time offender if convicted.

The penalties under the Hunting Bill, apart from providing for seizure of dogs or vehicles or articles without compensation, is according to the Explanatory Notes of:

"A person found guilty of an offence under the Bill is liable on conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently ?5,000)."

So is David Blunkett planning on tweaking RIPA to lower the threshold of state surveillance, something which would affect many more people than the fox hunting community ?

Why is the Bill restricted to "hunting with dogs" ? There is no mention of using other hunting or tracking animals which have been used for centuries such as big cats like leopards, or lions.

Inexcusably for 21st century legislation, there is no mention of transgenetic animals , chimera, clones, other artificial animals or crossbreeds. None of these living entities can be called "hunting articles".

Why is there no mention of foxes, when everyone knows that this is what the Bill is mostly about ?

Why is there no mention of horses in the Bill ? There are provisions for the seizure and forfeit specifically of dogs, vehicles and "hunting articles". Horses, which are the most important (and expensive) part of fox hunting are not mentioned at all.

Why is it so necessary to grant "a constable" search powers of "premises" or "land" without the need for a search warrant to enforce this Bill ? Why can't a search warrant be obtained in the same way as would have to be done to look for say, drugs or stolen property - which are much more serious offences ?

The worst failing of the wording of the Bill is that it simply does not define the activity of "hunting" at all.

Does "hunting" mean the actual detection by scent or sound or sight of a fox, and the chase and then killing of the fox ? Many hunts stomp over the countryside without actually sighting a fox. If there is no actual fox, is it still a hunt ?

The wording of the Bill provides no clarity on exactly where to draw the line between a hunt and a point ot point horse race etc., an omission for which there is simply no excuse, given how controversial this Bill is.

17 Comments

Another fiasco.....Does this now mean that the powers that be, will turn all cctv cameras in rural areas away from the roads and face them into the country side.Surely not...whatever next.

How can old croney (tony) have someone like this on his team.What a shambles and complete waste of our taxes yet again.
The world out there must be laughing.

Just because the technology does exist to put the countryside under surveillance, just like in urban areas, it does not mean that it is desirable to do so.

Do we really want South Armagh "bandit country" style observation towers reporting on every movement throughout the Cheshire or Leicestershire countryside ?

http://irelandsown.net/soarmagh02.html

Perhaps it is the "Eye of Sauron" from The Lord of the Rings which is influencing Home Office policy, rather than technology per se.

perhaps its too much tequila...hombre
I am against any form of government surveillance and would like to know they intend to make resources available.
This would take police off the streets have them all plodding (pardon the pun)around the country side.
I have a webcam they can borrow..no, on 2nd thought I can rent it out to them at a reasonable price.
Any offers croney or blunkie...hey what

"would like to know they intend to make resources available."

At a guess, higher taxes for you and me.

I actually find this laughable. The legislation is so poorly written that even an average lawyer could tear it to shreds.

And the idea of cameras in trees is hysterical! I come from a rural area and I know that nobody gets on or off keepered land (which most hunt land is) without the keepers knowledge. Those cameras will end up in the homes of poachers, or watching the roads, or staring at the sky. What a waste of parliamentary time...

The sad fact is that most of our MPs and Lords will not even bother to read or try to understand this relatively simple piece of legislation upon which they will be voting.

Why does the Bill not actually mention *foxes* at all, when everyone "knows" that this is the "mammal" to which it is referring ?

Why is mink hunting also to be outlawed ? Mink are *not* a native British species and do huge environmental damage.

We do not support any cruelty to animals (or to humans) but this Hunting Bill seems to be very flawed, yet it appears that it is going to be forced through "on the nod".

We have been campaigning for the Regulation of CCTV spy cameras, equally throughout the United Kingdom, for several years now, but unfortunately the General Public seems to be more interested in "voyeur TV" like "Big Brother" than in privacy issues.

After wiping away the tears of laughter, I must ask if "big brother" is now moving into the country side.

Great - are they going to be web ebabled so we can all watch illegal hunting from the comfort of our swivel-chairs?

and to think they laughed at my cctv fox hunting suggestion

based on section 8.3:- how do they propose to search the "animal, or other thing"?

Section 11,1,a) can this then be applied to shooting without significant change?

"People only protest at the level required to be heard. If the level is one of violence then as a democratic country we should REALLY get worried...."

"The worst failing of the wording of the Bill is that it simply does not define the activity of "hunting" at all."

No, this is the way that English Law has worked for centuries. Parliament merely creates the Acts, it's then up to the Courts to decide in what circumstances it's applicable. That's why Case Law is so important in England -- the whole judicial framework is based around the fact that it's the Courts that create definitions for (il)legal actions, not Parliament.

Before you go criticising a Bill's wording, perhaps you should learn some basic concepts about the English legal system.

Perhaps you should try reading the details of recent legislation, links to which can be found at the bottom left of the Spy Blog home page.

The traditional concept of English law, whereby "everything is allowed, unless it is specifically forbidden", has been undermined by the use of all encompassing, catch-all language on the statute books.

e.g. Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allows the UK Government to intercept any electronic communications originating either within the UK or outside of the UK (i.e. everywhere in the entire universe) using any part of the entire electromagnetic energy spectrum, including things which are way beyond known or conceivable technology such as cosmic rays.

Similarly, the "Hoaxes involving noxious substances or things" provisions of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, defines

'"substance" includes any biological agent and any other natural or artificial substance (whatever its form, origin or method of production).'

i.e. all known and uknown matter in the entire universe.

In the face of such deliberately vague and catch- all wording, there is simply no leeway for the courts to create case law exemptions, otherwise they are in conflict with "the sense of Parliament".

Judges are notoriously reluctant to create or strengthen any civil liberties through case law, e.g. a law of Privacy, which they see as the job of Parliament.

It should be clearly stated "on the face of the Bill", exactly what is meant by "hunting".

It is completely unclear if a fox hunt is still a fox hunt if there is actually no fox to be seen.

Many people in towns and cities have their refuse bins or bags scavenged by urban foxes. If a housholder investigates a disturbance at night caused by such a fox, and his

"one or more dogs are employed in that pursuit (whether or not by him and whether or not under his control or direction)."

scaring or chasing off the fox from his property, has he just fallen foul of the Hunting Bill, and is liable to conviction, fines and confiscation ?

What possible excuse is there to have to wait for hugely expensive court cases to decide such issues, when they could have easily been clarified with a proper legal definition of "hunting" and an actual mention of foxes in the Bill ?

In Scotland, hunting with dogs is banned. Of the hounds there, 200 or so were moved to England, and a further 350 killed by the hunts themselves.

Prior to the ban, approximately 530 foxes were killed every year. After the ban, 900 foxes die every year; the lask of hunts means that there is no incentive to preserve foxes on land used for shooting, so all-out fox control involving shooting, snaring, gassing and poisoning is practiced.

The methods used in Scotland now are arguably less humane and more damaging for both the fox population and potentially any people in the general vicinity than was hunting; shotguns are not immediately lethal to foxes except at close range, and high velocity rifles require very good marksmanship AND a good earth backstop to be safe.

All this was known prior to the ban, but after all banning hunting wasn't about cruelty or suffering, nor even about conservation but about a load of Old Labour politicians being let off a tight leash by their New Labour masters for a quick run round before being leashed and muzzled once again.

The same is true about the proposed ban in England. It won't do a thing for foxes; all it is, is a chance for the Old Labour idiots to flex a little muscle on a subject that seemed to Tony to be fairly harmless and not something that'd get him into much trouble. Tony, you see, has a problem with his party that has been there all along.

The labour party at the moment is composed of a small group of New Labour people who are doing the ruling, and a much larger number of Old Labour people who are keeping the New lot in power by voting with them. The Old Labour lot are essentially unelectable; their style of government
simply doesn't work long-term, unlike the New
Labour lot (who are just aping Tory policies).

But, the New Labour ruling clique have to keep the Old Labour majority happy, so every so often Old Labour has to be let out to flex some muscle and pretend that it is actually in the driving seat.

And now, Tony Blair is even more dependent on his Old Labour supporters playing nice, since right now he's looking weak. He conned the electorate and government into an unjust war using faulty information to support an already made decision; he is also presiding over steadily increasing expenditure and taxation (always guaranteed to piss people off), AND his style of leadership is becoming increasingly inward-turning and dictatorial.

To all this isn't Labour Policy, it is Tony trying to hold onto power at all costs and use this as a diversion. That's why it is so noisy, and so terribly poorly drafted.

Also, further to Dan's remarks, note that foxes are highly territorial animals. Researchers looking into how rabies spreads have long since understood that the best defence against rabies spreading is a healthy background population of foxes - wiping out the (healthy) foxes allows an infected animal to travel more widely than it would otherwise, since it's not crossing their territories (or, rather, attempting to do so and being chased off by them). It's possible (by soaking chicken heads - which foxes love - in the vaccine, then dropping lots of them over the affected country-side) to immunize a population of foxes against rabies; they can then be relied on to contain any infected animals.

The traditional method of hunting - with dogs - works well at moderating the fox population while letting the ones who've got sustainable territory live. A fox chased clear of its turf by a hunt has to make its way home, evading conflicts with its neighbours; if the local population is too crowded, this is a major peril to it. At the same time, hunting ensured farmers were largely willing to let foxes alone when not out for their social gathering (which happens to involve hunting). If farmers now use guns (as they surely shall), there's no part of the process that ensures a sustainable fox population survives.

Perhaps the remedy is to introduce inspectors who trudge round the fields surveying the fox population and imposing local bans on shooting foxes wherever it falls dangerously low; but the inspectors are going to need dogs to help them discover the foxes; and the only way the farmers are actually going to abide by such local bans is if they (or at least their friends) go round with the inspectors to verify that the fox population really is low enough to pose no threat to their chickens. Of course, getting round the countryside at a reasonable pace to do such inspections would be highly damaging to the terrain if done in wheeled vehicles - riding on horse-back would work much better - and the inspector's going to need to be highly trained in controlling the canine assistants in flushing foxes out into view to be counted. Maybe we can get all the old hunts retained by the government as environmental inspectors ?

As to this being Old Labour, I guess there's an element of that; but there's also a strong element of town vs country. A lot of (particularly young) urban folks feel alienated from the country - Keep Out is their enduring impression - and associate the country with the Tory voters (notably Land Owners) whose government imposed laws they don't like (restricting raves, etc.); so the hunting ban is an effective populist stratagem for New Labour to pursue - it has no chance of getting rural votes anyway, so nothing to lose by trampling on rural liberty and plenty to gain from pandering to percieved grievances of the urban population (who would be better served by the elimination of the bad laws that peeved them to begin with - but Blunkett is no more likely than Howard to turn away from the urge to become Big Brother).

This CCTV in trees idea sounds like fun. Hunting cameras is a lot cooler than hunting foxes, and nothing gets hurt.

There is no need to worry about idententifying any hunting after a ban comes into force.
Sabs, who yesterday might have been committing the criminal acts (and were promptly bashed on the head by police & others for doing so) will suddenly be legitimised and tomorrow will be no doubt helping the police to deal with any law breakers up & down the land.
How things change!

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Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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Recent Comments

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

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Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

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Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers