The Countryside Alliance is urging all those who support rural communities to TAKE ACTION NOW to stand up to blatant discrimination within Wiltshire Police.
On 28th March, Wiltshire Police announced that they had commissioned an internal review of its Rural Crime Team (RCT) which has resulted in the force “establishing a new framework to ensure the suitability of personnel working within the unit.”
One of the key principles of this new framework discriminates against people who are involved in a lawful activity. These principles ensure Wiltshire police staff do not have personal links to hunts, either in the past or currently, and also require staff to “disclose links to any rural based hobby or initiative that could potentially call into question their policing impartiality”.
Not only are those with any involvement – past or present – with lawful hunting activities discriminated against, those who take part in any “rural based hobby or initiative” must also disclose their interests. This could be any lawful activity, from shooting and fishing, to rambling.
Polly Portwin, a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance said: “There can be no justification for rejecting job applications based on an individual’s involvement in a lawful activity. Wiltshire Police recruits should be made up of a diverse range of men and women, irrespective of their background.
“This decision, as it currently stands, risks alienating thousands of potential people with rural and farming backgrounds from being able to serve their communities in the fight against crime.”
The framework was introduced by the force following protests earlier this year at the appointment of PC Cheryl Knight, who had links to a former hunt, to the rural crime team.
Despite Wiltshire Police at the time saying there was “nothing illegal” about an officer being affiliated with a hunt, it changed the guidelines after a small protest of animal rights activists outside its HQ.
It appears that Wiltshire Police have bowed to faux outrage and mob rule by a tiny minority, without considering the reputation of rural policing which is already at all all-time low across the country.
Please take a moment to complete this very short e-lobby, which will be directed at Wiltshire’s elected Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, calling on him and Wiltshire Police to reverse this unjust and divisive decision immediately.