Animal rights activists are calling for a police officer to investigated for ‘misusing her professional powers’ after a video of her facing down fox hunting saboteurs went viral.
Off duty PC Claire Ford was understood to be alongside the Cheshire Forest Hunt when it clashed with activists who disrupted the ride.
When the protesters allegedly strayed from the public bridleway and onto private land, PC Ford came over and identified herself as an officer and escorted them off.
A video – which has been watched more than 35,000 times on social media – shows her claiming their actions are a ‘breach of the peace’ and warning protesters her ‘colleagues’ are nearby.
A petition has been launched calling Cheshire Police to take action against the officer, accusing her of ‘acting as private security’ and ‘misusing her professional powers’.
The force confirmed it ‘referred’ the matter to the professional standards department after receiving a ‘number’ of complaints.
A spokesperson for the Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs said: ‘We believe that as an officer of the law, PC 5336 Claire Ford, should have no involvement in policing fox hunts due to her clear conflict of interest on this issue.
‘We also believe that Cheshire Police should demand that she has no involvement with fox hunting whatsoever, be that on duty or off duty.
‘Nor should she have any role in policing the forthcoming badger cull that may be rolled out to Cheshire.
‘PC 5336 Claire Ford was photographed supporting the Cheshire Forest Hunt as a passenger on a quad bike then filmed acting as private security for the hunt by misusing her professional powers in a matter of civil law.
‘We would like Cheshire Police to make a stand against cruelty and call into question the actions of PC 5336 Claire Ford and any other supposed officers of the law within their force who are directly or indirectly involved with hunting.’
The hunt gathered at a pub in Sandbach, Cheshire, where they were met by saboteurs and monitors from three anti-hunting groups, on December 10.
But it is understood they clashed nearby when the activists entered private land and PC Ford – accompanied by the farmer – approached them and told them to leave.
A video captured by the activists shows her saying: ‘I’m here as a breach of the peace [sic].
‘My colleagues are just around the corner.’
She is asked: ‘Are you a policewoman?’ and she answered: ‘Yeah I’m an off duty police officer I’m just making sure’, before identifying her collar number.
She then added: ‘Stop, stop, stop, stop – all they’ve asked you to do is leave’ and continues to march towards them.
She is challenged and told she ‘can’t’ but she adds: ‘I can…it’s a breach of the peace’ and ‘why are you spouting the law at me?’
More than 7,000 people have signed a petition launched by Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs calling for PC Ford to ‘have no role policing fox hunting or be present, on or off duty’.
Cheshire Police tweeted ‘we have already referred this matter to the professional standards department’.
A spokesman added: ‘Cheshire Police are aware that a hunt was taking place in the south east of the county.
‘An off duty officer was present and gave advice to those who were attempting to disrupt the event.
‘Cheshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department has received a number of complaints and is establishing the circumstances.’