Rumours have been flying around social media networks and pinging across email inboxes that a shoot in Cambridgeshire was recently disturbed by an anti-shooting group. The news originated in an email from the CLA to its east members that claimed the antis turned up to a shoot in Cambridgeshire and – dressed entirely in black and wearing balaclavas – tried to disturb the shoot and take photos of people ‘showing aggression or losing their temper while holding a gun’.

The story began to spread over a couple of days, featuring in an email from NOBs and numerous posts on Facebook and Twitter.

We spoke to the Cambridgeshire rural crime team, who explained that they had received a complaint, but they hadn’t been informed of people dressed in black, wearing balaclavas, sporting cameras and provoking guns. They were aware of the rumours, which also claim the group damaged feeders, but the person who reported the trespassers did not mention this.

We also spoke to CLA East, who would not make a statement about the incident or offer evidence to support the validity of the rumours.

In light of the story, Shooting Times has some advice on what to do if your shoot is disturbed by antis.

This was originally published in the October 9 issue and written by Chris Burman-Day.

What do when faced with protestors on a shoot

Some weeks ago I came across a news story concerning animal rights protesters who were opposed to the badger cull targeting land that forms part of a well-known Somerset shoot.

Though foxhunting has been at the heart of animal rights action for the past few decades, in the past 12 months the controversial badger cull has increasingly become the focus for such groups. A scan of animal rights groups’ websites also identifies a growing trend, which is not new, to target gameshooting.

As I write, a police officer has just left my home having taken a eport about tweets inciting the theft of firearms from marksmen taking part in the cull. With shooting, as with the cull, the issue of firearms adds an extra dimension, of which we should all be aware. So what are the practical measures you can take to maintain safety and de-escalate a situation if you are unlucky enough to be confronted by animal rights extremists on a shoot day?

As a security consultant with the Elle Security Group, much of my working life is spent advising and managing security operations involving direct action by animal rights, environmental and anticapitalist groups. The extreme elements among such groups frequently work to the same agenda – that of confrontation and intimidation, intended to elicit violence.

While it’s almost impossible to restrict access to land by groups hell-bent on such action, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are in a position to deal with such incidents efficiently as well as maintaining the safety of all concerned.

With camera phones, as with all digital photographs, a time-code is embedded within the image file. To facilitate date, time and location recording for evidence, consider the use of a mobile phone app, such as EvidenceCam. Costing just a few pounds, this app will embed the time, date, location and any description you wish at the edge of a picture as it is taken, making it visible as part of the image and providing a more robust piece of intelligence to hand to the police.

Apart from the beliefs surrounding animal cruelty, the intentions of these groups are two-fold: to use intimidation and harassment to elicit a violent response that will paint their targets in a negative light; and to disrupt a legitimate activity to the extent that it ceases to occur. If aggressive protesters arrive at your shoot, they may already have played the disruption card. Unless you can change drives or location, stopping the day’s activity may be the safest response. Disappointing and costly though this may be, it is far better than a confrontation involving firearms. The point at which this becomes necessary is one for careful consideration. What we can have much more control over is the way in which we, as Guns and supporters, are viewed. A calm and polite manner goes a long way towards maintaining a safe situation as well as highlighting the tactics used by the aggressors.

Safety is the key message. Prior planning and, where necessary, liaison with the police can help to provide a more fluid response, always with safety in mind. If you are unsure about how to develop a written plan, organisations such as the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association and BASC will be able to provide direction, and specialist security companies can also assist.

Chris Burman-Day is a security and risk consultant with the Elle Security Group and the founder of the Rural Crime &Security Network. 

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