Image source, PA Media
Image caption, League Against Cruel Sports campaigns chief Emma Judd argued Labour’s figures show hunting has a “negative impact” on rural communities and it is “time for change”.
By Thomas Mackintosh
There are fresh calls to strengthen the ban around fox hunting ahead of more than 200 meets on Boxing Day.
The Countryside Alliance says it is the first time in three years traditional meets will be go ahead in full.
Using dogs to chase or kill foxes was made illegal in England and Wales in 2004 in the Hunting Act.
Labour has called for stricter laws around fox hunting after it claimed there have been less than 450 convictions in over a decade.
Official figures compiled by Labour show 438 convictions – including 42 last year – were secured since 2010 under the Hunting Act.
Labour wants to close “loopholes” in the law and says trail hunting – which involves laying a scent for hounds to chase instead of a live animal – is being used as a “smokescreen” for the illegal hunting of foxes.
The Countryside Alliance, which campaigns for the return of fox hunting, accused Labour of harbouring a “pointless political vendetta against hunting”.
Chairman Nick Herbert said: “Labour’s position is utterly illogical and the large number of prosecutions under the Hunting Act only shows that the legislation is perfectly effective.”
Reacting to Labour’s figures a government spokesman said: “The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt a wild mammal with dogs and anyone who believes that an offence has taken place should report the matter to the police.
“Those found guilty under the Act are subject to the full force of the law.”
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