Tuesday 27 May 2014

Badger cull company used Somerset's constabulary 'as private police force'

HNV Associates Ltd and the National Farmers Union directed police operation from control room, according to a police report

The Guardian, Sunday 25 May 2014 17.58 BST

Employees of the company that ran last year's badger cull in Somerset directed the deployment of police officers against protesters, according to a police investigation.

Policing the culls cost millions of pounds and the report, seen by the Guardian, shows that half the personnel in the police's night-time control centre were either from HNV Associates Ltd or the National Farmer's Union (NFU).

Those opposed to the cull say the report suggests officers acted as a "private police force" for the cullers and breached protesters' privacy by allowing the cullers to learn their names and addresses.

Police in the other cull zone in Gloucestershire have been accused of "highly questionable" actions by civil liberties lawyers, after telling protesters that their personal details would be passed to the NFU and handing out NFU-produced leaflets. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said having cull representatives in the control room gave them real-time information that helped keep the public safe and said changes to policing the cull when it resumes this year were still being discussed. The NFU, which also speaks for HNV Associates, denied that its members or anyone from the culling company had directed police action.

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