9th June 2018
New figures show policing the badger cull in one county alone has cost the public purse more than £831,000 in the last year.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request from the Wounded Badger Patrol Cheshire was originally rejected by Cheshire Police, after officers said they did not hold the figures.
But the activists appealed the decision with the Information Commissioner and found out the force had charged the Home Office £831,093 to police the cull.
Animal Welfare Party deputy leader and Alsager town councillor Jane Smith says the money spent on patrolling the cull is a ‘phenomenal amount’.
She said: “Wounded Badger Patrol Cheshire submitted an FOI request and in the first instance it was rejected as the police said they didn’t have the information but we appealed and they said they did hold it, and it ended up a phenomenal amount.
“In the response Cheshire Police said it cost just over £831,000 and that was just the policing costs. It’s a pretty shocking and there are 19 zones across the country so it will be costing an absolute fortune.
Policing the cull in Cheshire is costing around £1,000 per badger that is killed whereas vaccinations would be around £70 a badger.
“At Wounded Badger Patrol we are asking people to write to their MP and councils because this is taxpayers’ money being used to fund a politically-motivated and ineffective badger cull. In terms of the police it is ridiculous they did not reveal the information.”
Cheshire dairy farmer Ray Brown is in favour of the cull and says it is the only way to eliminate tuberculosis from badgers which then spreads to cattle.
He said: “I think the National Farmers’ Union has made it clear that the only cost has come from the protesters and they cannot attribute this cost to the cull. Unfortunately they are naive to the problems that TB brings to the cattle and wildlife.
“If we continue letting TB spread, it will be all over the country. Culling the badgers is a necessary evil. You could try vaccinations but that isn’t possible."
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Darren Martland says the police officers were ‘impartial and fair’ during the six-week cull.
He said: “The badger cull is a DEFRA managed issue under licence from Natural England. Our role is to plan and provide a police response that is neutral and independent, with the primary aim of protecting the public and facilitating lawful activity.
“During the planned cull which began last September and ran for six weeks, we were impartial and fair to everyone, whatever their interest or involvement in the pilot scheme. We worked with those who wished to exercise their human rights to oppose the cull through peaceful and lawful protest and those undertaking the cull to enable them to carry out a lawful activity.
“We mediated – when appropriate – with parties involved in protest issues, promoted crime prevention and reduction, responded to assessed threats and evaluated any emerging risks. We also dealt with any firearms licensing issues required in law and responded to any breach of the peace. Our role also included investigating any party for breaches of criminal law.
“In addition we had to have a proportionate policing plan in place for a major incident, which would involve coordinating a response with other agencies in line with civil contingency legislation and practice.”
The Cheshire cull zone has been granted a licence up to January 2021 with the DEFRA targeting a minimum of 563 badgers in that time and a maximum of 764.
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