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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK
Fears over police enforcing hunt ban
A fox hunt
Concerns have been raised about enforcing a hunt ban
A police chief constable has warned that a total ban on fox-hunting would be impossible to enforce and the prospect filled many officers with dread.

Alastair McWhirter, Chief Constable of Suffolk and rural spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said there was also a fear that activists would turn their attention to shooting, leading to possible deaths.

On Thursday, Mr McWhirter told the BBC: "Our concern is that good law works effectively by people complying with it.

"If people do flout the law and engage in civil disobediance there will be practical difficulties in enforcing the law."

Enforcing a ban on hunting with dogs would not contribute in any way to meeting the priorities set out in David Blunkett's National Policing Plan
Alastair McWhirter, Chief Constable of Suffolk

Writing in The Times, Mr McWhirter appealed for legislation to be enforceable, which would be difficult with the Hunting Bill that is currently going through Parliament.

"Parliament's vote for an outright ban on hunting fills many of my fellow officers with dread," he wrote.

"Not because the police are pro-hunting - the service is determinedly neutral - but because of the practical implications of enforcing such a ban."

Mr McWhirter described the practical implications of arresting those caught flouting the ban.

Reassure rural communities

He said that it was impossible for police to stop and arrest huntspeople on horseback and seize the hounds and horses they use to commit the offence.

He said the alternative of reporting offenders for summons would mean an impossible workload to summons a 30 to 40-strong hunt.

Mr McWhirter said forces would work hard to enforce legislation in a way that it would not destroy efforts to reassure rural communities.

"But enforcing a ban on hunting with dogs would not contribute in any way to meeting the priorities set out in David Blunkett's National Policing Plan," he wrote.

Mr McWhirter said the resources spent on hunting would still be needed to police shoots which would be increasingly targeted by protesters.

"If you thought demos at hunts were dangerous, think about the possibilities when a protester walks in front of the guns," he said.

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