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Landmark verdict under Countryside Alliance sponsored anti-poaching law

Two poachers have been disqualified from keeping dogs for three years, in what is believed to be the first use of new powers introduced last year following intense pressure from the Countryside Alliance.


Essex Police reports that David Hilden and Tyron Young were issued the orders after admitting charges of daytime trespass in pursuit of game in Saffron Walden on 15 October. Following detention by rural engagement officers after walking across crop fields with four dogs, the pair initially denied the charge. One claimed to be after rabbits while the other said he was walking his dog, but there was no public right of way in the area and they had no permission from the landowner to be there.

Their vehicle was seized and a later court summons resulted, in addition to the disqualifications, in fines, costs and surcharges totalling £273 and £385 respectively.

Rural Engagement Team investigating officer PC Neil Wright said:

"Dogs are integral to poaching and I am delighted that the magistrates were able to use this new legislation to deprive these two poachers of any access to dogs, even just walking someone else's, for the next three years.

"We look forward to working with the CPS to have these disqualification orders applied in cases of hare coursing and other poaching offences in the future."

The disqualification was made under Section 66 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which came into force on 1 August. These powers were a late addition to the Act following extensive efforts by the Countryside Alliance, along with allied groups, to highlight the damage and lawlessness associated with hare poaching and the blight it imposes on rural communities.

The Alliance campaigned for these changes with rural sector partners for more than four years. Having committed to monitoring their operation in practice, we are delighted to see the courts using the new powers and hope this case will further deter criminality in future.

To support our efforts to stand up against threats to rural communities, please consider joining the Countryside Alliance today.


Image Credit: Essex Police


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