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Sabs could face criminal charges for trespass in future

Tory manifesto plans include making trespassing on private land a criminal offence

hunt saboteurs

Hunt saboteurs have complained that the latest rules proposed by the Tory manifesto will make sabotaging hunts “almost impossible” because they will face much more serious penalties after encroaching onto private land.

However landowners and shoots which have been targeted by the anti-shooting lobby, suffering trespass and property damage, will doubtless welcome the manifesto plans.

Trespassing is currently a civil offence. This means that the police are unable to intervene in such situations. Furthermore if landowners use force to remove intruders they can be charged with committing a number of offences.

hunt saboteurs

Tory manifesto plans include making trespassing on private land a criminal offence

Intentional trespassing

Whilst the Conservative manifesto does not refer to reviewing hunting laws it does include plans to “make intentional trespass a criminal offence.”

The move has caused concerned comment amongst anti-hunt groups.

Below is a film taken by a Ms Smith from North Wales. She warned that police say that they are unable to intervene to protect them.

What is a landowner’s defence?

A landowner can sue for trespass in the civil courts. However, substantial damages are only likely when there has been physical damage or the landowner has been deprived of the use of the land.

damage on shoot in badger cull zone

Some of the vandalism suffered by a small DIY shoot in Cornwall

Gamekeeper response

National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO)  chairman Liam Bell commented to Shooting UK: ‘We know first-hand from our members the problems that occur from trespassers on private land. We know it’s a huge issue in rural areas and not just a problem for the shooting community. Anything that helps to deter and prevent this type of activity can only to be a good thing and a  step in the right direction.”

Ed Rowlandson of the Countryside Alliance said: “Making intentional trespass a criminal offence is something law abiding members of society will agree with.”