Mr Ruffley asked the Home Office "how many (a) charges, (b) prosecutions, (c) convictions, (d) cautions and (e) fines there have been for breaches of the Hunting Act 2004 in each police force area since its enactment?".
The reply came yesterday.
Apparently there were three prosecutions by three constabularies in 2005. There were three fines and one caution in total.
In 2006 there were eleven prosecutions by four different police forces. There were five guilty verdicts. Five fines. No cautions.
There two plausible explanations for these staggering low levels of prosecution:
- The hunting community is almost entirely law-abiding and is no longer chasing foxes with dogs.
- The law was incredibly badly drafted, almost unenforceable and perhaps the biggest ever waste of parliamentary time.