Following a number of targeted saboteur attacks on shoots at the beginning of last season, the Countryside Alliance has published an updated guidance sheet to raise awareness of the risks and give advice on dealing with saboteurs. The guidance provides practical advice for shoot managers on what arrangements to make before the day, and what actions to take if saboteurs do turn up.

The advice to members is very clearly ‘better safe than sorry’. Saboteurs are often very well briefed on legislative procedures and will attempt to use this knowledge to their advantage. It is essential that shoot managers are also well briefed, with a good understanding of the surrounding area and good relationship with local police officers.

Jack Knott, Countryside Alliance Campaigns Manager, said: “There is no expectation of a rise in disruption by animal rights extremists this coming season, however, following a couple of incidents last year, it is best to be fully prepared just in case that disruption does occur.

“The guidance requests that shoot managers brief guns on the possibility of disruption. In the event of a saboteur attack it is essential that all participants in the shoot day remain calm, keep safety as a priority and allow the police to deal with the situation. The saboteurs will try anything to provoke and intimidate to create a news-worthy event. As frustrating as it may be, you must not allow yourself to be provoked. Always remember it is the saboteurs who are acting illegally not you.

“The Countryside Alliance has decades of experience dealing with animal rights extremists, so if you have any questions or issues please contact the head office and let us know if you experience any saboteur activity.”

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the National Rural Crime Network and Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “This guidance on what to do if your shoot is targeted by saboteurs is essential reading for anyone who wants to shoot safely and enjoy the sport without incident. I know that people at times feel the police response is not as good as it might be and that saboteurs are not dealt with robustly, but it is nonetheless very important to report incidents to your local police and to work with them.

“More generally, we also know from the National Rural Crime Survey published in July, that many crimes in rural areas go unreported. This means the police are often unable to respond or have the right resources in place.  I am very keen for the police to understand better what’s going on in the countryside and would urge you to report incidents to them, and encourage others to do the same. Thank you.”