Warwickshire Hunt complaints continue to cause concern as questions remain unanswered
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Panel is a team of county, district and borough councillors, supplemented by two unelected members, that oversees the work of the PCC.
It asks questions of and makes suggestions to Mr Seccombe and his office in relation to their work in setting broad priorities for the region’s policing and monitoring the force’s work. They cannot interfere directly in the operational matters.
Warwickshire Police issued Warwickshire Hunt with a community protection notice (CPN), ordering that officers should be provided with a calendar of all events and locations and timings of any road crossings a week before meets.
This was due to be appealed by Warwickshire Hunt but a protocol to address road safety matters, which has controversially not been made public, was agreed prior to that being heard. It meant the CPN was dropped.
Since then there has been a series of clashes between hunt saboteurs and Warwickshire Hunt with the panel hearing allegations from wildlife conservationist Dr Denise Taylor at its last meeting in November 2023.
She claimed that “hunt monitors, wildlife groups and members of the public have submitted overwhelming evidence” to police that “Warwickshire Hunt continues to act unlawfully”, including “at least one reported illegal fox kill on October 9”. Warwickshire Hunt denied any unlawful activity and accused “anti-hunting activists” of making “spurious claims”.
In the past week, Matt Western, the Labour member of parliament (MP) for Warwick and Leamington, joined calls for the protocol to be made public and urged Home Secretary James Cleverly to step in, and the matter is also still landing in the inboxes of the panel.
In introducing the public speaking part of this week’s meeting, chair and independent member Andy Davis said: “It is probably worth noting that the panel has, over the past couple of months, received a number of contacts from members of the public, particularly about Warwickshire Hunt.
“This follows on from the past two meetings when we have had visitors in to speak about Warwickshire Hunt. It is just to note that we have received a number of statements from the public, we continue to do so.
“It has continued to concern panel members, both individually and collectively as a panel, that we are still receiving these comments on a regular basis, commissioner.”
Mr Seccombe nodded in acknowledgement but did not comment further, while no member of the panel added anything when Mr Davis opened up the opportunity to speak.
It appears to leave unanswered the questions raised back in November by Warwick District Council’s representative Councillor Jim Sinnott (Lab, Warwick Saltisford).
He asked: “If residents have a real issue and they are not getting answers, where does that leave us?
“I am elected to represent residents, so is the commissioner, I am just asking about the openness.
“I can see this coming back again, it is not going away. I would like a resolution, this protocol seems to be at the centre of it and if we get a bit more openness, maybe it would help resolve some of the concerns. That would be good.”
Polly Reed, chief executive of OPCC, reiterated at that time the inability to get involved with operational matters.
“I appreciate that sometimes feels like an unsatisfactory answer ," she said.
"That is not something that can be produced from our office in respect of live police cases."