Following further 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 to give advice on dealing with saboteurs. The guidance provides practical advice for shoot managers on the arrangements that should be made before the day, and the actions that should be carried out if saboteurs do turn up.
Acts of civil trespass are a matter for landowners, but if saboteurs are interrupting a legal activity on private property they are committing the criminal offence of aggravated trespass. In the event, it may prove possible for a shoot to bring trespass action and apply for injunctions against identifiable individuals, and possibly groups, and such an action would include damages and costs. If a criminal offence is being committed, it is therefore important to inform the police so they can then take the necessary action.
Any criminal allegation will need to be corroborated with film footage if it is to meet the necessary threshold for a criminal prosecution. Criminal offences being carried out by saboteurs should therefore be filmed, and it is important that saboteurs are ordered by the police to remove face coverings so that they can be identified at a later date. The Policing and Crime Bill allows a senior police officer to give oral authorisation for a constable to order saboteurs to remove face-coverings in order to prevent or control them from carrying out a criminal offence, and if the circumstances allow it is important that they do so.
Our updated document ‘Saboteurs and Shooting - practical advice for shoot managers’, can be read here.