Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Whilst the RSPCA remains in the grip of obsessives and extremists it is unlikely to take advice from anyone, however wise and well meaning. It seems especially averse to input from the rural community despite the fact that it could have avoided acres of bad press if it had listened to people in the countryside, rather than lecturing from what it perceives as the moral high-ground. Our advice is very simple: stop doing stupid things. The Society, however, seems institutionally incapable of taking this on board and even as it sacked its latest Chief Executive, presumably for the ultimate sin of talking sense, it also launched into a new and controversial campaign.
At the RSPCA AGM at the end of last month Chairman Daphne Harris announced a new strategy with a headline target to “get statutory powers for our inspectors to help them rescue animals”. However you dress this up it can mean only one thing. The RSPCA wants statutory powers of entry on to private property and intends to use its huge £140 million annual budget in pursuit of those powers. Not happy with being moral arbiter, investigator and prosecutor of criminal offences the RSPCA now wants the power to enter your land, access your garden and break down your front door if it believes an offence is being committed.
This, let us not forget, is an organisation so dysfunctional that it took two years to find its last Chief Executive and got rid of him after 12 months, an organisation which sheds senior executives with alarming regularity and which the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to become a patron of. Even the Charity Commission has stepped in to demand changes to RSPCA governance including the enforcement of a code of practice to improve the “the conduct, tone and tenor” at RSPCA Council meetings.
Its record of investigations and prosecution is no better. From killing family pets, to prosecuting the old and vulnerable, to politically motivated attacks on hunts and farmers controversy has surrounded the RSPCA’s self-appointed role as a prosecutor. Fundamental questions about the separation between the Society’s conflicting roles also remain unanswered.
To even suggest that the state should entrust an organisation this flawed with far reaching and fundamental powers over its citizens shows how deluded the RSPCA is, but do not expect any dawn of reality. Instead the RSPCA’s council will undoubtedly pursue its political aim with zeal, and with money donated to improve the welfare of animals.
Follow Tim @CA_TimB