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PCC Martin Surl criticises crow scarers used by badger cull operators

By Michael_Yong  |  Posted: September 20, 2013

  • Wounded badger patrol

  • BadgerCull2013

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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."

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14 comments

  • Jake_Blake  |  September 21 2013, 9:24PM

    "Evidence that cull will work In response to Tuesday's letter, ("Scant evidence on badger TB", 18 September), I would like to point out the evidence on the spread of bovine TB between badgers and cattle. The £50m Randomised Badger Culling Trial, designed by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, investigated how bTB spread between cattle, badgers and other wildlife between 1998 and 2006. The trial culled just under 11,000 badgers and forms the basis of our current badger culling policy. It conclusively showed that a significant proportion of badgers are infected with bovine TB and that bovine TB is spread between badgers and cattle. Using data from the RBCT, it has been estimated that 50 per cent of herds with TB in high-incidence areas are infected because of badgers.  As well as evidence of a dynamic cycle of infection between cattle and badgers, the RBCT showed that badger culling resulted in an overall beneficial effect on bovine TB in cattle herds, compared with areas that weren't culled. A benefit was still evident six years after culling stopped. The decision by ministers to include culling in the wide-ranging 25-year TB eradication strategy was taken based on the best available scientific evidence after more than 15 years of intensive research. Alick Simmons, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London SW1" http://tinyurl.com/mhsdgbd

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  • JillM  |  September 20 2013, 11:13PM

    Well said Dartnall. I hope you don't mind me quoting your excellent sentiments.

    Rate   5
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  • Clued-Up  |  September 20 2013, 6:01PM

    @grannyonline1 Friday, September 20 2013, 4:12PM Re: "Why were the cull operaters NOT charged with disturbing badgers? Or breaking the terms of their licence?" On the basis of the limited, contradictory information reported, there seems to be a number of rather more serious CRIMINAL charges the shooters COULD face - the maximum penalties for a number of them include prison sentences. Landowners could also face criminal charges, depending on whether they have been acting jointly with the shooters in any wrongdoing. If the rook scarers actually existed and did go off at the time stated, the landowner is probably guilty of several offences under the Environment Protection Act 1990.

    Rate   24
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  • Clued-Up  |  September 20 2013, 5:40PM

    I hope PCC Surl's words (criticising the behaviour of badger cull operators) represent ONLY the police's interim response to the "shooting" incident and to the victims' formal complaint to the police. To me this incident has unfortunate parallels with the Ian Tomlinson case. I feel Gloucestershire Police may well be conducting their own review behind the scenes to find out what really happened; what criminal charges the shooters should face; why the initial police investigation (by West Mercia police?) was so shoddy; and how it was that Gloucestershire Police spokespersons gave unsubstantiated, contradictory accounts of the incident to the press. The only straightforward, credible report about this incident to date has come from the victims and an independent witness, to the effect that the shooters shot at the victims from a vehicle parked in the next field to them. Intimidation by the shooters using the guns they already have with them (perhaps loaded with blanks) makes human sense. These people are losing money on the badger cull, not making it. They're frustrated and angry. They don't expect to get caught if they misbehave. By contrast, neither of the two explanations of the incident given by Gloucestershire Police make any sense and both are mutually contradictory. The blatant defects of both stories SHOULD have been obvious to the investigating officers and followed up by further investigation. The police press team should not have authorised either of the press statements made because the investigation of the incident is clearly incomplete. The first Gloucestershire Police report that the "shooting" heard was the shooters letting off fireworks only makes sense if this was a deliberate, pre-meditated criminal attempt by the shooters to intimidate the protesters. Badgers scuttle underground if they hear noise so letting off fireworks is counter-productive for the shooters. The shooters weren't setting off fireworks to decoy protesters away from shooting going on elsewhere; the protesters already had them in sight before the shooting started and it was probable they'd stay with this particular group of cullers until dawn. Gloucestershire police's second report to the press is equally implausible, with no explanation why the first account was so markedly different or why the initial information-gathering about the incident was so poor. A police officer investigating a suspected shooting incident that might have ended in human deaths is expected to take detailed written notes and formal statements from all those immediately involved. The press statements should have only been made if there were good police notes to support them.

    Rate   23
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  • twigcat  |  September 20 2013, 5:39PM

    Am pleased that Mr Surl has publicly criticised the cull operators but the cynic in me feels that this is just a bit more PR due to the fact that the police have been heavily criticised for their complete lack of impartiality. I still do not wholey believe that it was crow scarers used in this incident TBH.

    Rate   22
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  • Clued-Up  |  September 20 2013, 5:37PM

    I hope PCC Surl's words (criticising the behaviour of badger cull operators) represent ONLY the police's interim response to the "shooting" incident and to the victims' formal complaint to the police. To me this incident has unfortunate parallels with the Ian Tomlinson case. I feel Gloucestershire Police may well be conducting their own review behind the scenes to find out what really happened; what criminal charges the shooters should face; why the initial police investigation (by West Mercia police?) was so shoddy; and how it was that Gloucestershire Police spokespersons gave unsubstantiated, contradictory accounts of the incident to the press. The only straightforward, credible report about this incident to date has come from the victims and an independent witness, to the effect that the shooters shot at the victims from a vehicle parked in the next field to them. Intimidation by the shooters using the guns they already have with them (perhaps loaded with blanks) makes human sense. These people are losing money on the badger cull, not making it. They're frustrated and angry. They don't expect to get caught if they misbehave. By contrast, neither of the two explanations of the incident given by Gloucestershire Police make any sense and both are mutually contradictory. The blatant defects of both stories SHOULD have been obvious to the investigating officers and followed up by further investigation. The police press team should not have authorised either of the press statements made because the investigation of the incident is clearly incomplete. The first Gloucestershire Police report that the "shooting" heard was the shooters letting off fireworks only makes sense if this was a deliberate, pre-meditated criminal attempt by the shooters to intimidate the protesters. Badgers scuttle underground if they hear noise so letting off fireworks is counter-productive for the shooters. The shooters weren't setting off fireworks to decoy protesters away from shooting going on elsewhere; the protesters already had them in sight before the shooting started and it was probable they'd stay with this particular group of cullers until dawn. Gloucestershire police's second report to the press is equally implausible, with no explanation why the first account was so markedly different or why the initial information-gathering about the incident was so poor. A police officer investigating a suspected shooting incident that might have ended in human deaths is expected to take detailed written notes and formal statements from all those immediately involved. The press statements should have only been made if there were good police notes to support them.

    Rate   13
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  • mmjames  |  September 20 2013, 4:15PM

    transcendant Friday, September 20 2013, 10:53AM " anyone demonstrating against this illegal 'cull', .............. What don't you understand about the court INJUNCTION that was granted WRT shooting badgers? You were obviously quite happy with the courtroom antics of Brain May.

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  • grannyonline1  |  September 20 2013, 4:12PM

    Why were the cull operaters NOT charged with disturbing badgers? Or breaking the terms of their licence?

    Rate   18
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  • Dartnall  |  September 20 2013, 2:05PM

    Killing healthy badgers is wrong. The cull is so deeply unscientific as to be barely credible as a legitimate policy. In fact, it is about as scientific as book-burning and the people of this country did not give DEFRA nor the NFU a mandate to cull wildlife. Thank heaven for protesters. I am deeply grateful to them. The indiscriminate slaughter of 70 percent of one of our indigenous wild animals in cull zones 'rolled out right across the country' is immoral. The badger cull will not eradicate Bovine TB, it will not even halve it. The badger cull does not begin to address the problem of TB in cows. DEFRA needs to improve bio-security, minimise intensive farming practices and vaccinate, instead of killing badgers. Cows slaughtered due to TB are still processed through the food chain with DEFRA's blessing. The badger cull is state-sanctioned environmental vandalism and must be stopped. In hiring shooters who hide what they are doing from the general public and who are avoiding proper monitoring DEFRA is showing that it really does have something to hide. To quote Elizabeth I - "A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing

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  • Spud0  |  September 20 2013, 12:45PM

    "So PCC Martin Surl has nothing to say about why the police are taking no action against the cull operators for useing the crow scarers. Will the same leniency be shown to the anti-cull protestors?"

    Rate   33
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