HOME Secretary David Blunkett warned hunt followers yesterday that Parliament's ban on the blood sport will be fully enforced by the police.
Mr Blunkett declared that any attempt to carry on fox-hunting in defiance of the Hunting Act, passed last week in the Commons, would be a challenge to the whole basis of the legal system.
At the same time, however, he said that he would expect the police to enforce the law with "sensitivity," in order to allow people to get used to the legal changes which will come into force on February 18.
But he made clear that there would be no extra money for chief constables to police the Act.
Instead, he said that they would have to rely on resources currently being used to protect the hunts from saboteurs.
Despite threats by hunt supporters to defy the law, as well as warnings of a campaign of civil disobedience, Mr Blunkett said that he hoped that confrontation could be avoided.
On Saturday, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) warned that policing the ban would impose an added burden on them.
ACPO spokesman on rural affairs Alastair McWhirter said that chief constables would be looking to ministers for guidance on what priority they should give the issue.
Mr McWhirter also acknowledged that, in some cases, it could be difficult to determine if there was an offence being committed, as there had to be proof that a wild mammal was being hunted.
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