POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Martin Surl has criticised the behaviour of badger cull operators in the county.
He said their behaviour “fell short” of what people expected, after crow scarers were used in Monday’s events when protestors reported to police they were being ‘shot at’.
Campaigners were out in Tibberton when they reported around 12.40am on Tuesday they had heard loud bangs in the area.
Members of the wounded badger patrol had thought the noises were gun shots, but officers established there was no shooting in the area at that time.
Initial reports that fireworks were used have proved untrue, after Gloucestershire Police said yesterday it was crow scarers set off by cull operators.
Mr Surl said: “We know that the badger cull is an emotive issue which has the ability to divide communities across Gloucestershire.
“If crow scarers were used as part of a diversionary tactic in an effort to frighten or confuse people either on the wounded badger patrol or protesting peacefully, it is unhelpful and unacceptable.
“The police shouldn't have to spend their time responding to such irresponsible behaviour.
“Before it started, Gloucestershire Constabulary was clear about its role - it would be operationally independent, impartial and fair to everyone, whatever their views, interest or involvement in the pilot scheme.
“It is a position which it has repeated since the cull started and which it has put into action. Its response has been - and will continue to be - proportionate and even-handed. Public safety is a priority for the police and for me.
“However, it is clear that not everyone has such a sensible and responsible approach.”
The cull started in the county three weeks ago, and is a Defra policy implemented by private companies under licence by Natural England.
Mr Surl has called on people with opposing views of the cull to act responsibly, consider their behaviour, and cooperate with the police.
He added: “Equally, while I am grateful that the majority of people want to protest within the law and are co-operating with the police, I am aware that some of the more extreme protestors are intimidating members of local communities.
“That is totally unacceptable. People are entitled to their views about the pilot cull and should not feel anxious or threatened just because they express them.
“They have a right to feel safe in their homes and to be able to go about their lives without intimidation. If anyone feels intimated, concerned or threatened, they should contact the police and give them the evidence on which they can act.
“I would ask people who are protesting peacefully and who have genuine concerns about the cull to continue to co-operate with the police.
The police are facilitating peaceful protest and if any protestors would like to speak to them, two dedicated liaison officers are available each night.
“They are police officers trained to have a specific role to talk to people or groups of protestors about their concerns and ensure everyone understands what the police are doing and why they are doing it.
“"I would urge protestors acting within the law to report acts of criminality that they may see. Not everyone whom they meet has lawful protest in mind and they should be wary about getting mixed up with people who have other intentions.
“The role of the police in response to the pilot cull is to keep all Gloucestershire's communities safe and feeling safe, dealing with any with any incidents of crime and public disorder and facilitating people's rights to protest.
“It would be helpful if everyone involved in the cull, whatever their interest or view, fully co-operated with the police in their efforts to do that."