Hunt saboteurs from both CABS and ENABS were among the first to be targetted under this oppressive piece of legislation, introduced in November 1994. Regarded by many as a sign of the bloodsports fraternity's desperate attempts to get rid of direct hunt protest, the Criminal Justice Bill was introduced with the purpose, among others, of criminalising hunt sabotage.
Very few police forces have been willing to implement this act, prefering instead to concentrate their resources on combating real crime. Certain areas however, notably Essex, and the northern part of Northamptonshire, have brought people to court for the 'crime' of saving lives.
By May 1995, 154 sabs had been arrested or reported for summons, but only 11 had been convicted. 67 cases had been dropped, while 76 were awaiting trial. Hunt sabs had took the full force of the CJA, arrests outnumbering all other categories, but despite this, the CJA as it applies to hunt saboteurs has been shown to be generally inneffective. By this time, even the more enthusiastic police officers were having second thoughts about arresting sabs, with one one officer from Northamptonshire telling a local sab that the CJA is dead - that the sabs had won.
While sabbing still continues, much as it has always done, there is still the occassional arrest. Cases from the first season of the Act have come to court, some being won, some being lost with ridiculous sentences being imposed. In one case, a local protester was fined £200, had £200 prosecution appeal costs imposed, and has been bound over for two years to the sum of £200! Despite these draconian fines, we are still attending hunt meets, and will do for as long as is neccessary.
No public order act to date has been effective. The CJA was basically a second attempt at the 1986 Public Order Act, which many thought would bring an end to sabbing. After two failed attempts, and the prospect of many civil claims for wrongful arrest, perhaps the powers-that-be will at last realise...
...while there is hunting, there will be hunt saboteurs.