By Faith Eckersall, @HerFaithness

DORSET Police have revealed that up to March 2019 they have not made one successful prosecution for anyone who has been involved in the illegal hunting of foxes and hares.

However, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the force said there would be "an expectation to declare if an officer was a member of a hunt, or even hunted (drag or other legal hunting activity).

"Management of that declaration would then likely recommend that the individual cease the association (given the sensitivities or risk to a perception of a conflict in respect of independence) or, dependent upon the circumstances, be instructed to have no policing role in any legal hunting activity due to the potential conflict(s).

"If a person is a member of a hunt they would need to declare this if they police the area in which the hunt occurs or there is the potential that they may be involved in policing activity related to a specific hunt."

The force said all its Wildlife Crime Officers undertake a week-long nationally accredited course as well as training and conferences run by outside bodies, including the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

The force said its officers 'have an awareness of local hunt activity'.

"They facilitate lawful activity of those engaging both in hunting and protesting. We respond to reports of illegal activity including allegations of illegal hunting, badger sett interference, gather evidence and where appropriate take advice from specialist CPS prosecutors. In a spirit of openness and transparency we organise meetings with hunt masters and protesters to explain the law, to answer questions and to give advice."

Originally published in the Bournemouth Echo

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