HUNT ROAD CHAOS
Why are hunts being allowed to risk public safety?
It is estimated that over 10,000 fox hunts take place across the UK every year and, when they are caught killing foxes, we have all heard the same old lies and excuses from the huntsmen and women that it was just an ‘accident’, and they weren’t actually intending to chase foxes but were following a so-called trail.
However, it isn’t just foxes and other animals that suffer as a result of these ‘accidents’, but public safety is also regularly and routinely being put at risk by the actions of these hunts recklessly and wilfully ignoring their responsibilities.
Many hunts are run as registered companies and are therefore subject to exactly the same Health and Safety legislation as other businesses. This includes the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974, Section 3 of which states:
“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
In practice, this means that UK businesses have to carry out risk assessments to identify the risks their activities could pose to the public and then put in place measures to mitigate those risks.
For example, hunt businesses should be assessing and adequately mitigating the entirely obvious and foreseeable risks associated with their activities being carried out in the vicinity of public highways, railways and airfields. These risks include those relating to the control of hounds and the disturbance of other animals, as well as activities carried out on the highway itself such as traffic management, riding in groups and the operation of vehicles etc.
This is clearly not happening and we are therefore asking why hunt businesses are being allowed to flout these important Health and Safety laws, and why is the relevant enforcement agency failing to protect the public from the activities of these registered companies?
The relevant national enforcement agency for virtually all hunt related health and safety violations is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and it is the HSE that should be taking action to investigate incidents caused by these businesses and force them, as well as their governing bodies, to change their ways and obey the law in this respect.
However, although the HSE have acknowledged they are the relevant authority, their current position is that these issues are simply not important enough to warrant their attention, so they are currently not willing to do anything to protect the public from the dangers posed by hunt businesses.
The evidence, of course, clearly indicates otherwise and, over the last two years, UK hunts have caused over 100 incidents where the safety of the travelling public has been put at risk – that’s an average of around one incident per week.
Therefore, can you help us make this happen?
How to help
The HSE should understand the number of incidents that are caused by hunts, as well as the potential seriousness of the outcome of such incidents, and one way to help this is for relevant incidents to be reported to them.
It is easy to report a relevant incident to the HSE using their internet Health & Safety Concern Reporting System (link below), and relevant incidents would be:
* when the hunt involved is a registered business. To check this, click here. NB This isn’t an exhaustive list. If your hunt isn’t on it, check online and let us know what you find.
* when the safety of the public (or hunt employees/contractors) has been put at risk by their activities
* and that these risks would have been reasonably foreseeable to an organisation that was properly considering them.
There are two ways of reporting. You can report directly to AAF on “Hunt Chaos Reporting Form” (see link below), or to the HSE (see link below).
Most of the serious incidents over the last two years caused by hunts have occurred on public highways but some have occurred on railways and one has occurred on an active airfield. They can also occur on public footpaths or other areas as well.
Therefore, please do report any relevant incidents to the HSE – and please also let us know about them too, so we can add them to our incident database – we just need the date, the location (plus road name), the name of the hunt involved, a brief description of the incident and why it posed a safety risk, along with any supporting evidence you might have (photographs or video, for example).
Thank you for your help with this – together we WILL make a difference!
Help with filling in the form can be found here
AAF also wants to hear about the incidents. If you haven’t reported them to the HSE, we will do it for you. Here is the link to the AAF form. This one is REALLY EASY to do.