Police reply to Labour questions – but concerns remain

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Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour) asks questions

Avon and Somerset Police have given answers to seven questions posed by Labour about the policing of the badger cull. The response seeks to justify the presence in a police control room of representatives from the National Farmers Union and the contractors who were shooting badgers.

Superintendent Kevin Instance responded to letters from West Somerset Labour Party and the Bristol East Labour MP, Kerry McCarthy, which listed seven areas of concern. In his letter, he says that what he calls “partner agencies” were in the control room to maximise public safety and to enable the police to stop the shooting if necessary.

The Superintendent insists that the cull company and the NFU did not receive personal information about anti-cull protestors. He says the control room was arranged so that the contractors and the NFU could not hear radio communications from the police.

But the reassurances have to be seen against the background of a police disciplinary report into events one night in October. A protestor who called 999 to say he had been assaulted was treated as a suspect by police. And the report speaks of representatives from the police, the contractors and the NFU all giving directions to a police communications operator.

Control Room Chaos

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Andy Lewis (West Somerset Labour)” We wonder whether the official policy corresponds with reality.”

Andy Lewis of West Somerset Labour Party said: “We welcome the fact that the police have responded to the questions we put to them and that the need for confidentiality and impartiality is recognised. But we wonder whether the official policy corresponds with reality.

Superintendent Instance’s letter gives a picture of a well-managed control room. But the police’s own report into the incident at Carhampton gives a very different picture. It suggests that the control room was a chaotic place, where people were shouting across each other and conflicting information was flying back and forth, not being reported properly.

Avon and Somerset Police seem to recognise that there is a need for a degree of separation between police officers and representatives of the NFU and the contractors. We still believe the best way to achieve this is for the contractors to have a separate control room, with a police presence there to observe what goes on. This is the solution that was used Gloucestershire during last year’s cull and we hope it will be adopted in Somerset.”


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10 years ago

I hope more protesters will follow Chris Tasker’s example and put complaints upheld against the police into the public domain.

The police might argue that one case of police misbehaviour is regrettable but just one case. If there are 10 cases or more showing similar police faults then it’s clear the police policy was misjudged and the senior officers responsible for it need to answer questions about their judgement.

Graham Forsyth
Graham Forsyth
10 years ago

Avon & Somerset constabulary appear to have been drawn into a political role during this badger cull. It is no secret that the “Holy Trinity” of the Countryside Lobby groups is made up of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Countryside Alliance (CA) and the Countryside Land & Business Association (CLA) and all of these groups are 100% in support of the badger cull and a massive majority in favor of a Conservative government.

If anyone did think that having a PCC would allow openness, honesty and transparency into our police force then in this case nothing could be further from the truth. Sue Mountstevens was a magistrate and was a member of the now disbanded Police Authority and a local business woman. One could say she is part of the establishment and will not rock the boat when it comes to policing controversial countryside issues.

Are they only one side the the badger cull policing where both the senior management police team and the PCC meet and spin a united PR front?
Is this what you expected for those 19% who did bothered to vote for a PCC in Avon & Somerset?

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