doc

PROTESTERS against the badger cull in Gloucestershire have vowed to keep wearing balaclavas during this year’s cull.

Earlier this week Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl announced his plans to write to Home Secretary Theresa May urging for a change in the law on face coverings.

The issue was raised during a public questioning of senior officers over how last year’s cull was handled, on Monday, May 12.

Mr Surl said: “I received many complaints from families who had nothing to do with the cull who were frightened to leave their homes or go out after dark in case they were confronted by people whose faces were covered.

“It was one of the nastier elements of the cull. The police adopted a polite approach so as not to inflame the situation and it’s a pity those who were asked to take off their masks ignored not only the request but also the effect they were having on innocent people and communities.”

But Jay Tiernan, from Stop the Cull, said he does not see the law changing and stopping people from any back ground wearing masks.

“I can’t see how they will stop us wearing balaclavas or any other kind of mask.

“In a public place it is difficult to stop people from covering their faces.

“I know that wearing things like motorcycle helmets aren’t permitted in places like petrol stations because they are private places but I just don’t think they will be able to stop people covering their faces everywhere.”

“I will continue to cover my face.”

Officers have the powers to make someone remove a face covering, but Mr Surl said it was a tactic they were ‘more likely’ to use during a riot. He said they had tried to adopt a ‘more measured approach’.

On Thursday the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) refuted claims its injunction to prevent protests near homes was ‘of no value’.

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “Any suggestion that the injunction obtained by the NFU was of no value is absolutely wrong.

“We’re confident the injunction had a significant deterrent effect in stopping people taking part in illegal activity by making them aware that legal action could be taken against them.”