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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 November, 2004, 00:08 GMT
No extra money to police hunt ban
Police and pro-hunt demonstrators
Police officers will be expected to act with sensitivity
Police forces will receive no extra funding to help enforce the imminent ban on fox hunting.

Home Secretary David Blunkett says money currently used to protect hunts from saboteurs will be used.

In an interview for the Jonathan Dimbleby programme on ITV1 he said the ban would be "fully enforced".

But Mr Blunkett said he expected officers to act with "sensitivity" until people get used to the change in legislation on 18 February.

'Necessary action'

In an interview, he said: "Let me make it absolutely clear - there is no question that the law will have to be obeyed.

I want common sense from those who want to go out with their horses and hounds
David Blunkett

"The law will have to be implemented and therefore the police will take action where and whenever they think it's necessary to do so.

"If they deliberately say 'look we're going to break this law because we don't agree that our democracy parliament should have voted this way', then of course the police have to take action.

"Because the challenge is not just about hunting with hounds to kill a fox or a deer, it's actually a challenge to the basis of our legal system."

Senior police officers have warned that policing the ban would impose an added burden on them.

Existing resources

But Mr Blunkett said: "They'll use their resources wisely to protect people.

David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett says policing hunts may not be a major challenge
"In present circumstances they're using the existing resources to protect hunts from protest and from - in some circumstances - saboteurs.

"Now they'll be using the same resources in order to ensure that the new law is imposed."

Hunt supporters have threatened a campaign of civil disobedience.

This could include landowners refusing permission for the MoD to use their land for military training.

Common sense

Campaigning to get rid of MPs who supported the ban at the next election is another option being considered, as is carrying on with hunting regardless of the law change.

Mr Blunkett said: "I want common sense from those who want to go out with their horses and hounds.

"I want common sense in terms of the operational use of police resources and if we can get that right, then what looks at the moment to be a very major challenge will turn out not to be."

However, he said that if people were determined to break the law they would be dealt with by the police.

The Association of Chief Police Officers' spokesman on rural affairs, Suffolk Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter, said they would be looking to ministers for guidance what priority they should give the issue.

He said: "This is an additional burden. It is going to be challenging. We are going to deal with what Parliament has passed. That is what our job is," he told the BBC's Today programme on Saturday.

Mr McWhirter acknowledged that in some cases it could be difficult to determine if there was an offence being committed, as there had to be proof that a wild mammal was being hunted.


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