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MP Kerry McCarthy calls for farmers's reps to be banned from police control room during badger cull

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 30, 2014

MP Kerry McCarthy calls for farmers's reps to be banned from police control room during badger cull

Comments (7)

A West MP has called for farmers' representatives and the culling company to be banned from the police control room when the cull resumes in Somerset later this summer.

In a letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner of Avon & Somerset, Sue Mountstevens, Kerry McCarthy called for "transparent" policing of the cull and raised the "considerable concern" that the privacy of the people protesting was breached because their names and addresses were potentially available to the private firm they were protesting against.

The Bristol East MP spoke up after a series of complaints lodged against the police by one protester were upheld, and the report into what happened late one night near the Somerset village of Carhampton revealed how half the people in the police's control room that night were either from the NFU or the private firm hired to carry out the cull.

Earlier this week, the Western Daily Press revealed how police communications officers complained that the representatives from the cull company were "shouting across" them as they tried to provide a response to allegations on the ground.

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Protesters called 999 to allege they had been assaulted, while the marksmen carrying out the cull were able to radio straight through to their bosses, sitting in the same room as the police chiefs.

Ms McCarthy called on the Avon & Somerset Constabulary to be "more transparent" when it comes to policing this year's badger cull, and made the suggestion that if the police wanted "real-time" information fed to them from the scene, they could work with Natural England, the Government body instigating the culls.

The Labour MP listed a series of questions to Ms Mountstevens, including demanding to know who agreed to let representatives from the culling firm and the NFU into the control room.

"Please can you ensure these questions are answered in full, which is vital if we are to maintain the trust and confidence of the protesters and public at large in the policing of the culls," she wrote.

"It is very important that the police are impartial and even-handed – and appear so – in their approach to policing legitimate public protest and maintaining public safety. As the report says, having these reps in the control room did give 'the impression that the police were simply supporting the cull operators at the expense of a freedom to protest by the various badger support groups'."

She added that "independent oversight" was necessary to provide full confidence in the process.

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  • PeterInFrankf  |  June 02 2014, 8:13PM

    We need to bring in UN observers to monitor the activities of the British police, to ensure they are protecting the public interest and not following private agendas at the behest of commercial interests.

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  • ks009746  |  May 30 2014, 3:20PM

    Well said. The police have a job to uphold the law, but at the same time they must respect peaceful protest, which the vast majority of cull opponents adhered to very well. All they want is a bit of compassion towards our wildlife and science-based disease control strategy, not this farce that is only going ahead to win votes and secure the tories' core rural voting base ahead of the election. All the evidence shows that there is significant bias within the police and I would not be surprised if there was bribery going on. The NFU are a very powerful organization with lots of money at their disposal. It is vital that this cruel, unneccessary cull is stopped, and those responsible are tried for crimes against wildlife.

    |   29
  • groundnut  |  May 30 2014, 2:02PM

    It is unfortunate that the Police have become embroiled in this Badger killing exercise. And it is not only Somerset and Avon. But also Gloucester Police who according to a Guardian Newspaper report, passed to the NFU personal details concerning a protester. But Kerry McCarthy is right to find out the full extent of the Politics involved. Did the Police offer these facilities to the NFU and the Cull Contractors, or was it the NFU and Cull companies that requested such assistance from the Police? Or maybe this was very political and from the Inside track of DEFRA and its Ministers. Either way this question needs to be answered in full. In addition the extent and manner in which future policing of this cull will be undertaken. The Politics of this so called Badger killing and its relationship towards ANY long term eradication of BOVINE TB becomes even more farcical and lacking in competence.

    |   30
  • Salza02  |  May 30 2014, 1:07PM

    Well done. About time the police were told to do the job properly and fairly. Doubt they will do so though.

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  • Clued-Up  |  May 30 2014, 11:26AM

    I'm very glad Kerry McCarthy is BEGINNING the process of MPs holding the police to account for the errors they've made in policing the badger cull. Hopefully MPs as a whole will follow her lead. We expect our police to uphold the law, behave lawfully themselves and not give special privileges to certain groups or individuals. In the Chris Tasker case (where 5 out of his 7 allegations were upheld by the police investigating officer looking into his formal complaint) the police failed to meet the public's expectations in all particulars. The RESULT of giving the NFU and culling companies the special privilege of access to the police control room was that police failed to respond appropriately to Chris Tasker's 999 call saying he'd been assaulted and that the two cull operative assailants responsible were closing in on him again; instead the police treated him as a suspect on the say-so of the two alleged offenders. Hopefully now Chris Tasker's complaint has been upheld the police will now start investigating properly the case against the alleged assailants ... the comment "justice delayed is justice denied" springs to mind.

    |   29
  • stormkettle  |  May 30 2014, 10:54AM

    Kerry McCarthy is representing all people who are concerned that the NFU and badger-killing companies have had access to private police information about people legitimately protesting the cruel and heartless killing of perfectly healthy badgers. (A legally protected species ).

    |   33
  • StanStill  |  May 30 2014, 9:33AM

    Poor Kerry, lives in a different world to real people. So inexperienced it is a joke. she made a fool of herself during the Tesco riots a while back, and doing the same now. You will be lucky to get anything out of Mountstevens, it was an operational matter for which the suspended Chief was responsible for, it is nothing to do with the PCC, she should keep her nose out of operational matters.

    |   -36