AuthorLaura Saunsbury/Nick Doherty

Chapter 11 Poaching


11.01 In addition to seeking a prosecution,1the owner or occupier may take civil action against a poacher under the ordinary rules relating to trespass of the land.2

If a person is trespassing on land, that is to say, is on land where he has no right to be, the owner or occupier of that land may order that person to leave at once. If the person does not leave, the owner, the occupier or others under the direction of the occupier or owner, may use force to expel him provided that they only use such force as is necessary to remove him.3The occupier may also sue the trespasser in the civil courts for any damage caused while trespassing and, if that person is a persistent trespasser, may be able to obtain an injunction4against him.

11.02 Acts of Parliament have created a number of poaching offences whose ingredients and penalties vary according to whether the offences are committed in the daytime or by night, whether the poacher is alone or with others, whether or not he is armed, and whether he resists or co-operates when detected.

1A prosecution may be instituted by anyone, whether he is interested in the land trespassed on or not (Halsbury’s Laws of England, 5th Edition Reissue, Vol 2, para 798).

2Though, where a prosecution for daytime poaching has been started, civil proceedings for trespass cannot be brought against the offender for the same act by a person at whose instance or with whose concurrence or assent the prosecution was instituted (GA 1831, s 46).

3 Halsbury’s Laws of England, 5th Edition Reissue, Vol 2, para 779.

4I.e. an order of the court forbidding him to commit further trespass, the penalty for non-compliance usually being a fine or imprisonment.

160 The Firearms Law Handbook


11.03 If you ‘commit any trespass5by entering or being6in the daytime7upon any land in search or pursuit of game8or woodcocks, snipes … or conies’,9you will commit an offence.10If five or more of you together do the same thing, each of you will upon conviction be liable to a greater penalty.11

11.04 If you are caught in the circumstances just mentioned by any one of a number of specified persons, you must, if asked to do so, leave the land at once and supply your full names and address. The persons who are entitled to make these requests are:12

(a) the person having the right of killing game on the land;
(b) the occupier of the land, whether or not he has the right of killing game on it;

(c) the gamekeeper or other servant of, or any person authorised by, either of the persons described in (a) and (b) above;

(d) a police constable.

11.05 If you refuse to give your real name and address, or give such a general description of your place of abode ‘as shall be illusory for the purpose of discovery’, or wilfully continue or return upon the land, you may be apprehended by the person making the request, or by anybody acting by his order and in his aid, and later charged before a magistrate.13Any person so apprehended must be released if he is not brought before a magistrate within 12 hours.14Any of the

5I.e. entry without the prior permission of the occupier of the land or, where the shooting rights are held by some other person, of that other person (GA 1831, s 30).

6An entry or presence by a person is necessary to constitute the offence. The sending of a dog on to the land is not enough (Pratt v Martin [1911] 2 KB 90).

7This lasts from the beginning of the last...

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