Alun Michael, the Labour Minister who presided over the enactment of the 2004 Hunting Act that banned hunting with dogs believes it has proven: “an effective piece of legislation.”
Recently elected as Police Commissioner for Wales, Michael says he: “Adopted an evidence based approach, which showed that hunting with dogs was cruel and unnecessary.” Even though MPs backed him, the House of Lords with its Tory majority held up the legislation until it proved necessary to invoke the Parliament Act that gives primacy to the elected Chamber.
Critics of the new legislation claimed it would prove unenforceable and in the first two years there were just eight successful prosecutions under the Act. The figures though have steadily increased. Last year, 56 people - from 75 prosecuted - were convicted of offences under the Act. This exceeds other wildlife legislation prosecutions, with only the Badgers Act 1991, at 29 successful prosecutions in 2010, coming close.
This has seen Mr Richard Crompton, Lincolnshire Chief Constable and the Association of Chief Police Officers lead for hunting, say: “This substantial number of convictions demonstrates the Hunting Act 2004 is enforceable.”
Alun Michael agrees and he hopes the Countryside Alliance will now stop: “misinforming their supporters, convincing them that if they break the law they can escape prosecution. They have let many people down very badly.” Michael said he could see little reason to repeal the Hunting Act and he believes today’s Parliament feel the same. The coalition government has promised a free vote on the issue before the next election in 2015.