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Can threatening saboteurs still wear masks?

A reader asks for some advice

Animal rights activists

Violent clashes with hunt saboteurs have been reported in recent years

Q: My wife, who hunts with a local pack of foxhounds, recently found herself being abused by two hunt saboteurs, both of whom were wearing masks to hide their identity. Police were called and the saboteurs eventually dispersed. I thought some legislation had been brought in to force these thugs to remove their masks. Is this the case?

No acts of aggression

A: Under the recently modified Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the provisions now allow a constable to require anyone to remove an item, 
such as a mask, which is being worn 
for the purpose of concealing his or 
her identity and, in addition, if the constable believes that the item is 
being worn just to hide identity then 
it may be seized. The intention is good but, in practice, saboteurs may wear balaclavas, claiming that these are just to keep warm. If any attempt is made by saboteurs to disrupt a shoot, guns must immediately be sleeved and the police called. It is essential that no acts of aggression are made towards the perpetrators, whether on a shoot 
or during a hunt.


What the Countryside Alliance says

“The use of violence, intimidation, and online bullying against individuals involved with hunting, and businesses providing a service to people and communities involved in lawful hunting is utterly unacceptable.

“It is the worst form of cowardly harassment or ordinary people and we expect the police to respond with the full force of the law, in light of the growing number of incidents. This behaviour would not be tolerated were it directed at any other group in our society or those businesses supplying services to them.”