- Councillor Peter Garbutt has written to South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable Lauren Poultney calling on her to review their partnership with the shooting lobbyists, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
BASC have reported that they have been providing classes teaching pupils about the management of local moorland. (1)
South Yorkshire Police in an email from the Sheffield Northwest Neighbourhood Policing Team stated that they
“came together with our partners in BASC and game keepers/landowners to put on the annual Let’s Learn Moors Event. This event is for children from local junior schools and aims to give them an insight into rural life and how to safely use our beautiful moors and countryside and is free so as not to put a bar on any child being able to attend.
School children from 6 different schools, including Stannington, attended the event with teachers and spent the day working through different bases on site”.
Green Party Councillor Peter Garbutt, who is a member of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel and also on the Council’s Education, Children and Families Policy Committee, said in a letter to the Chief Constable,
“We note that you have partnered with these groups to put on an event, the aim of which was to give school children ‘an insight into rural life.’
Our concern centres around the police aligning themselves in an educational capacity with a lobby group which has the political aim of promoting the maintenance of grouse moors for driven shooting, where there are other conflicting political viewpoints; the police are required to be above politics in this and in all matters. We are concerned for example that none of the groups you partnered with for this event would feature education around the damage driven grouse shooting is doing to the upland environment, for example;
· Its impact on neighbouring areas (e.g. smoke and flooding);
· The artificial maintenance of low levels of biodiversity;
· The prevention of tree growth and damage to peat, both important carbon sinks;
· How it will have to change in the face of a changing climate and the longer term need to rewild large areas.
We are also concerned that children have been fed grouse meat that may have significant levels of lead from shot.
We agree that young people need to be educated to value and respect the rural environment. However we are concerned that the absence of any balancing local environmental lobby or special interest groups is likely to create a misleading impression in children’s minds that the status quo is sustainable and has no problems at the level of land management; endorsement from South Yorkshire Police would serve only to reinforce this impression.
We trust that you will broaden any future event to ensure a proper balance of the issues is addressed and that appropriate risk assessments are carried out, in particular in relation to providing food. We will also be asking local Head teachers to respect their duty of impartiality, and to consider the need for children to be educated in a manner that highlights both the positives and negatives of current rural life before authorising such trips.”
1) Link to the British Association of Shooting and Conservation’s “Let’s Lean Moor” page
2) Copy of SY Police Email