Call for action as two thirds of gamekeepers face abuse

Almost two thirds of UK gamekeepers have received abuse and threats because of their profession and now need better protection.

Among the 1,000 responses to The Gamekeeper Survey 2020 are shocking reports of keepers receiving death threats and warnings of arson and criminal damage, with 64 per cent saying they had received direct abuse., with many claiming it had destroyed personal relationships.

Abuse via social media channels is a rising issue for gamekeepers, with 56 per cent reporting an increase in the number of incidents over the last 12 months compared to previous years. Over 30 per cent of respondents who have been targeted also recorded rises in physical and verbal abuse.

Responding to the survey, which was carried out by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Glyn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said something needed to be done. “The survey reinforces what we have been seeing and hearing in the last couple of years. There has been an alarming increase in the abuse of gamekeepers.
“Due to the very nature of their jobs, gamekeepers often live in isolated locations and this leaves them exposed and vulnerable. Gamekeepers and other shoot managers are essential to the management of our countryside and it is important those involved and their families are given the appropriate protection from online and physical abuse.”

One ex-gamekeeper from Derbyshire, who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals on his new business, was forced to leave the profession after being the victim of accusations online by an anti-shooting group. The targeted attacks left him ill and affected his relationships.
He said: “Seeing hundreds of messages of abuse and threats on social media impacted my health and my home life significantly. These people did not know me, but led on by false accusations, they attacked me, my girlfriend and my way of life.
“The police were helpful but were limited in their powers to stop the online abuse. I felt utterly helpless, these people had a free run on my emotions. Direct threats on our health and life made it unbearable. “Living rurally, we were isolated and alone. I ended up watching cars at night to make sure no one was outside. A verbal attack on my girlfriend at her workplace was the final straw that led us to walk away from a profession that I trained for and love.”
Helen Benson, from the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust, a charity set up to help keepers, has also seen incidents increase recently and added: “Living in fear of attack and abuse is an issue that we see on a regular occurrence. An isolated living and working environment present a number of challenges for gamekeepers, this level of abuse and threatening behaviour cannot be allowed to continue.”

But now there is hope on the horizon. Environment Secretary, George Eustice, responded: “Gamekeepers do vital work as custodians of the land. They play an important role in the shooting industry, which delivers significant benefits to rural economies. Any form of abuse or intimidation is wholly unacceptable, and those responsible should feel the full force of the law. We will take the findings of this report on board.”

Share This Post!

Join Over 100,000 Fellow Attendees & Visitors

Sign up to our Newsletter today.