Police involvement in the Forest of Bowland, but not in the way you would expect.

We would expect the police to have an interest in protecting wildlife and apprehending those people who set out to destroy protected species like the Hen Harrier and Peregrine, this story has exposed the reality of what the Lancashire Constabulary are really interested in protecting. In the last five years we have witnessed the loss of all Hen Harriers and the disappearance of at least 18 breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons from the Forest of Bowland; what are the police really interested in doing, read the shocking account below.


Cat discovered after spending at least 3 days in an illegally set trap, The cat has now been adopted by one of the defendants.

On July 30th 2015, five people walking on a public road in the Forest of Bowland heard the cries of a distressed cat. Looking into the undergrowth, onto the Bleasdale estate, they saw a cat hanging by its back leg from a Fenn trap which was illegally set over a beck. They were able to release the cat and take it to a vet for treatment, but this led to a shocking series of events which revealed just how involved the local ‘wildlife’ police are with the shooting estates.

On August 11th 2015, three houses belonging to the five people who rescued the cat were raided by around 25 officers from Lancashire Constabulary, led by ‘wildlife crime officers’ Lorraine Elwood, PC Gary Cross and PC Andrew Massingham, all bloodsports enthusiasts. A further home was raided, this time by counter-terrorism officers, led by DS Peter Denson, whose family are heavily involved in big game hunting. All have links to a notorious ex-police wildlife officer, now BASC employee and fanatical animal killer.

It was alleged that ‘legal traps and snares’ had been damaged, and 6 people (including one child) were charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage on the Abbeystead and Bleasdale Estates in the Forest of Bowland. Although the extent of the alleged damage was estimated to be less that £350, a three week Crown Court trial was booked, at the taxpayer’s expense. A CPS prosecutor told one of the barristers that the CPS were ‘under pressure from the landowners’. None of the officers involved appeared to have any knowledge of trapping or snaring, or the surrounding legislation.


The injured cat, who was suffering from shock and dehydration, had to have several toes amputated.

The defendants were accused of conspiring with each other during a period 6 months before they had even met and one officer threatened to arrest a primary school aged child if his father did not admit to being someone else. Another officer made several visits to the home of two of the younger female defendants, seemingly attempting to intimidate them into pleading guilty. At the initial hearing, a notorious ex-police wildlife officer, now BASC employee was present. He attempted to photograph the defendants in the waiting room, and was admonished by the magistrate for this.


Illegally snared Doe Deer Forest of Bowland

A report by an independent expert ascertained that the trap which had injured the cat was not legally set, therefore it seemed highly likely that other traps and snares on the estate would be similar. Following the death of the Duke of Westminster, owner of the Abbeystead estate, the CPS seemed to be less pressured, and after seeing the independent expert’s report, they decided not to offer evidence on the first day of the trial. Two youngsters had already admitted to damaging some snares and they received small fines. The Judge seemed to be very insightful, and persistently questioned the prosecutor about the trap, who eventually admitted that it was ‘not set correctly’, (and was therefore illegal). No-one from the shooting estate was prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering to the cat, nor did they make any contribution to the large veterinary bill.


This snared badger had been left in an illegal snare for nearly two weeks, it death was slow and painful. Forest of Bowland.

This case has cost thousands and thousands of pounds, paid for by the taxpayer, to protect game shooting estates which receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in subsidies from the taxpayer, via Natural England and the Forestry Commission. The police, also paid by the taxpayer, were proficient at moving the goalposts whenever it transpired that the gamekeepers were in the wrong, changing times and dates to suit. The statements given by the gamekeepers only proved that the gamekeepers were not checking their traps according to statutory timescales, and had broken the law. Animals are regularly left to suffer unchecked in snares and traps for periods of up to two weeks, with those snares and traps being set by keepers with no formal qualifications.


Illegally snared Roe Deer with long wire trace around its neck resulting in strangulation and a painful death

Further information revealed an insidious relationship between the police and the estates whereby the police appear to overlook illegality, and in return they get to shoot, beat, pick up and get areas of land to ‘manage’ (ie they shoot deer etc) they get to ‘tour’ the estates, and they get to tug their forelocks in deference to their masters. On discovering that the cat had been found in the trap, the gamekeepers had immediately called officers Ellwood and Massingham on their personal mobile phones whilst both were off duty. Wildlife officers also attended private functions when invited by gamekeepers. FOI requests revealed that Bowland wildlife officers have not secured any prosecutions for wildlife crime in the last 2.5 years, although wildlife crime is rife in the Bowland area. The disappearance of our Hen Harriers and the loss of all Peregrines in Bowland is no mystery – the only conspiracy that exists is the one between the police and the estates.

The injured cat, who was suffering from shock and dehydration, had to have several toes amputated. A vet who is also a cat expert has stated that the cat must have been in the trap for at least three days. The cat has now been adopted by one of the defendants, but it would have ended very differently for him if those five people had ignored his cries.


20 comments to Police involvement in the Forest of Bowland, but not in the way you would expect.

  • Percy Bysshe

    It makes you wonder how these officers are allowed to waste valuable time and resources in what can only be perceived as intimidation of witnesses and protection of the perpetrators.What on earth are there superiors thinking of and how far up does this corruption go.Come on Lancashire police this is a scandal you cannot afford to ignore.Meanwhile the dossier of the activities of the shooting fraternity gets bigger and bigger….

    • Bubo bubo

      Perry, theor superiors will be acting under orders from their masters who are the landowners, it will all be discussed at lodge meetings where they all use the same Funny handshake.

  • According to their website the Lancashire force follows the established national code of ethics (see http://www.college.police.uk/What-we-do/Ethics/Documents/Code_of_Ethics.pdf ) which states under “Associations”:
    “6.3 – Membership of groups or societies, or associations with groups or individuals, must not create an actual or apparent conflict of interest with police work and responsibilities.
    6.4 – The test is whether a reasonably informed member of the public might reasonably believe that your membership or association could adversely affect your ability to discharge your policing duties effectively and impartially”.
    It seems to me that if the comments regarding the relationship between the Wildlife Officers and gamekeepers can be proven then they are in serious breach of this code of ethics. I hope that those involved have complained to the IPCC (www.ipcc.gov.uk/) – I’m sure several groups would be happy to support such a challenge.

  • Northern Diver

    It seems the only “wildlife crime” Lancs Police recognise is poaching!
    Also PC Massingham was present at HH Day in August but was not displaying his Police No. anywhere on his uniform – is this allowed? Secret Policing?

  • Thorbjorn Odinsberg

    the ex policeman you do not name it would be mad for shooting and killing things Delerium Tremens would it by any chance?

  • James

    There are three MP’s whose constituencies include parts of the forest of bowland. They are Nigel Evans, Ben Wallace and Andrew Stephenson (all conservative). I’ll be mailing them with a link to this piece. Hope others will too.

  • James

    Further to previous: MP email addresses are:

    Pendle@tory.org (Andrew Stephenson)

  • Ann

    Ben Wallace is pro hunting and shooting I am afraid I asked his views on how he would vote to repeal the hunting act , He probably goes shooting on the estate . If you ask anything about hunting on his facebook page you are blocked .

  • Mark Farrar

    This illustrates the gamekeepers and estate owners in the Trough Of Bowland have become untouchable!They work for the aristocracy who receive government money (taxpayers money) for the upkeep of estates to allow grouse shooting, get the support of the government who also participate in grouse shooting and when there is any illegal crime committed in removing of predation they get the backing of the Law.

    Anyone who the gamekeepers think may be interfering with their methods of removing predators, and in some instances are very primitive methods or who they think are snooping around when they are only out walking enjoying the scenery, enjoy looking for birdlife and wildlife (which is now a rare sight in the Trough of Bowland)then they are arrested and charged with either trespassing on private land or damaging their poor methods of removing predation(traps snares).

    The Forest Of Bowland has now become a protected area for Grouse/Pheasant shooting.Only people who are interested in the Cruel Sport of Game/Grouse shooting with licences to shoot are made welcome. Hikers, walkers,bird lovers, wildlife lovers, photographers and artists etc are now not made welcome. The right to roam and Open Access allowing walkers and hikers to walk anywhere in Bowland which the landowner kept closed does not appear to be in force in the Trough Of Bowland, it clearly looks to me, and in my experiences, that the Forest of Bowland is being exempted, Why? Cruel Sports? Primitive pastime?

  • Trapit

    Nothing much changed since the Paul Stott and Carl Smith case,or the harassment experienced byTerry Pickford at the hands of the ex Wildlife crime officer.
    This totally over the top reaction, at great cost to the taxpayer, shows the unhealthy influence that money still has over the judicial system.

  • Mark Farrar

    Certainly looks to me an act of clear violation of the Wildlife and Counrtysde Act 1981.http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69

  • Brian Leecy

    If this is not a case of vested interests with certain Police Officers and the shooting Estates what is !! shocking ,Appalling, this must be investigated fully by higher authorities ! No doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg !!

  • adam

    This is absolutely disgusting but sadly does not shock. This deserves high profile media attention, please forward this to the league against cruel sports, they have a facebook page followed by thousands. More importantly please pass on this information to the the Daily mirror newspaper, they are anti blood sports. This needs exposing. A petition successfully caused the resignation of a police wildlife crime officer last year when it was proven that she was an active member of a Fox hunt. Pressure needs to cause the same in Bowland. Thankyou for publishing this on here.

  • adam

    I should add well done to those people who rescued the cat and destroyed the other traps! I would do exactly the same every time.

  • This is an appalling story and I hope that the ‘mainstream media’ pick it up and develop it. The keepers have far too many Fenn traps set to be able to check them daily, as the law requires. It is not unusual for other species to be incidentally trapped and to suffer cruelly. If a typical gamekeeper did actually check his traps every day that is all he would do – it would be a fulltime job. This is also obvious to the Wildlife Liason Officers who practically collude with the keepers in evading the law. That must be a good story for anyone’s newspaper or TV programme.

  • anthony

    Am I the only one who smells a distinct conflict of interests here? The position will never change in Bowland until all the officers involved in game shooting are removed and replaced by others without such interests, period/

  • the police fairly routinely do not uphold the anti hunting law. They veer towards the support of the Hunts and not the support of Hunt Monitors and Sabs who do their best to uphold the Laws, to enforce the laws…….Its the same with the Shoots too. In the meantime all our wildlife is rapidly being slaughtered. Either shot for fun or snared, poisoned or trapped. helped along by tax breaks for the landowners and estates , licences from Natural England(DEFRA) to kill birds of prey that might predate the odd poult. WE SHALL SOON HAVE NO WILDLIFE AT ALL….i DO DESPAIR. In my area, glos, we had a very good Wildlife Police Officer. A genuine wildlife respecter. Guess what happened to him? He was given a desk job. So there he sits but will son retire.

  • and did you know that there is an agency where Hunts can hire Hunt thugs to intimidate and physically attack Hunt Monitors and Sabs?