BASC raises concerns over ‘inconsistent’ Covid-19 police advice

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is urging the police to be “consistent” in the Covid-19 advice given to the shooting community.

Apr 29, 2020
By Paul Jacques

It follows reports that some forces have blocked essential fox control during the lambing season.

The BASC said it had received complaints from members in some areas that they have been warned by their local police force not to undertake pest control unless it was their ‘profession’.

It added that this stance “sits outside the guidance BASC issued after seeking clarification from government”, which says anyone can “conduct essential pest control to protect crops or livestock with the landowner’s permission”.

Duncan Thomas, regional director of BASC North, said: “Some forces are getting this right and some forces are getting it wrong. But with lamb season in full flow, a refusal to allow essential fox and crow control is of significant concern for farmer’s livelihoods and the lamb’s welfare.

“Members are rightly concerned that they do not have the full backing of the police when being asked to undertake a vital rural service by farmers. This cannot be allowed to continue as it is affecting the vital work that needs to take place in the countryside now.

“Not everybody who undertakes vital work in the countryside can be classed as a doing it as a ‘professional’ for payment, but the lack of that status does not undermine the vital work they do. BASC is urging the police to show consistency across the board on this.”

The BASC, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, which represents the interests of some 155,000 members, has also written to Environment Secretary George Eustice to ensure shooting and its associated conservation benefits are “recognised” when the Government considers easing lockdown restrictions.

Mr Thomas added: “Like every responsible organisation, BASC recognises the truly outstanding work being done by the NHS and emergency services during this time of national crisis and we reiterate our advice that people should follow the government guidance for that safety and welfare of themselves and the wider community.

“But the countryside cannot stop during this period and it is essential that legitimate pest control that protects crops and livestock is allowed to continue. It is nonsense to suggest that this work can only be done by paid ‘professionals’. The countryside does not operate like that and BASC is challenging this with the police.”

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