THE NFU IS WATCHING YOU:Labour demands answers over badger cull police operation

badger watching
A police report says a representative of the NFU was in the police control room while badgers were being shot.

The Labour Party is challenging the Avon and Somerset Police Commissioner over the involvement of the National Farmers Union in the policing of the badger cull in West Somerset. A police report says a representative of the NFU was in the police control room while badgers were being shot. Also there were representatives of the firm carrying out the cull, HNV Associates.

The revelation came in the police response to a complaint by an anti-cull activist whose car was searched. It has shocked people who took part in peaceful patrols during the cull.

The Labour Party has written to Police Commissioner Sue Mountstevens with a series of questions. We want to know:

1/ At what level in Avon and Somerset Police was the decision taken to have representatives of the NFU in the control room ?

2/ What purpose was it supposed these representatives would serve?

3/ Was any duty of confidentiality placed on these representatives ?

4/ Did these representatives have access to information about people arrested during the cull?

5/ To your knowledge, did the NFU representatives who went into the control room pass on information about the police operation to the union’s wider membership?

6/ Were the representatives of HNC Associates able to communicate from the police control room with their staff on the ground.?

7/ Will you be reviewing your force’s policy on the presence of outsiders in control rooms during sensitive police operations?

‘Heavy Police Presence’

badger lewis
Labour’s Andy Lewis out on badger patrol at the height of the cull.”It is truly shocking to learn that we were being watched from the police control room by the NFU”.

Andy Lewis of West Somerset Labour Party joined opponents of the cull in a patrol last year. He said: “There was a heavy police presence, but the police tried to give the impression of being even-handed. It is truly shocking to learn that we were being watched from the police control room by the NFU. It has also been said by a police communications officer that the NFU and HNC Associates were “directing” the operation.

 “We hope Sue Mountstevens will answer our questions and will tell us that the National Farmers Union and other outside organisations will not be involved in future police operations.”

Cllr Mick Lerry said: “ It is important for Sue Mountstevens to answer the questions posed by the Labour Party, we cannot have secrecy around and issue of public interest, and she must be absolutely clear about the involvement of the National Farmers Union”.


Andy Lewis : 07974 030753


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10 years ago

I listened to the webcast today and felt PCC Sue Mountstevens simply wanted to avoid talking about the badger cull issues.

The journalist didn’t put your questions to her, so she didn’t have any chance to answer them.

The Chris Tasker incident showed how police decisions to allow the cullers into the control room created biased behaviour by them later when they investigated the alleged assault. The PCC must have known about this very high profile incident. She denied that police actions were effectively directed by the cullers, even though it’s clear they were and the police investigating officer’s report showed how the cullers’ control was achieved.

R Weeks
R Weeks
10 years ago

Thank-you Labour Party for asking these very important questions. It must be seen that the claims of police impartiality are supported by their actions, to maintain credibility in the public eye.

10 years ago

Sorry that weblink didn’t work either – plse just go to the site and navigate from there!

10 years ago

Sorry I think I gave an incomplete weblink – plse try

10 years ago

If you look at the police report of the investigation of protester Chris Tasker’s complaint, you’ll notice the privileged telecommunications access given to the cullers was as significant a problem in distorting police behaviour as their physical presence in the police control room.

Chris Tasker rang 999 to say he’d already been assaulted by two shooters and they were closing in on him again. There was a slight delay while the 999 operator routed Chris’s call to the police control room. By contrast his alleged assailants had direct telecommunications access to the police control room – and they apparently used the few minutes grace they had while the 999 operator was re-routing Chris’s call to put in their counter-allegation of assault DIRECT to the police control room. The consequence is that instead of processing the first phone call MADE (the 999 one), the police communications officer processed the first call his control room RECEIVED (the cullers’ privileged access one). On the say-so of the alleged assailants, the police treated Chris Tasker as a suspect and not as the victim of the 2 individuals who had allegedly attacked him.

Graham Forsyth
Graham Forsyth
10 years ago

As a Labour party member and a keen animal welfare campaigner I decided to attend the Badger Cull zone in West Somerset and partake in the lawful and peaceful Somerset Badger Patrols that have been running each night during the cull period.
However on several occasions while out on patrol I was approached and asked by a police sergeant if I was aware of the civil NFU injunction that relates to the badger cull. Again I am very concerned that Avon and Somerset constabulary are involved in a civil process they appear to be acting rather like the private security force of the NFU especially as no crime was committed or looked likely to occur.
I did meet the Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens in March 2014 at Williton car park along with fellow Somerset Badger Patrol members and we did ask about the presence of the NFU officials in the control room. She stated that that decision was made by the Chief Constable and she cannot comment on operations issues.

I also understand that people who went out on badger patrols had their vehicle details taken down and the are concerns about this data being placed on the Nation Crime Database. I understand the reason for the details of protesters being recorded was to allow the police officers on duty to know what vehicles to stop and search as this list was maintained and distributed each night, the police did state to me that no data was passed over to the NFU, but I am still concerned about the role of the company HNV Associates Ltd; a private limited company; which has its two directors based in Warwickshire and was only setup in April 2012 and it lists its Nature of Business listed as Hunting, trapping and related service activities; this company also had its representatives in the police control room during the cull.

I am particular concerned that organisations such as the Nation Farmers Union and this private company HNV Associates Ltd working so closely with our local police force as the Nation Farmers Union is nothing more than a political pressure group working for the benefit of a small unelected rural minority of large landowners.

The police appear to have been drawn into a political role during this badger cull.

Cllr Graham Forsyth
Avishayes Ward

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