Derbyshire gamekeepers call for action after rise in threats and abuse

Almost two-thirds of gamekeepers have received abuse and threats.Almost two-thirds of gamekeepers have received abuse and threats.
Almost two-thirds of gamekeepers have received abuse and threats.
Gamekeepers in Derbyshire are calling for better protection after an alarming increase in abuse and criminal behaviour from those against shooting.

A new survey has revealed that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of gamekeepers across the UK have received abuse and threats as a direct result of their profession.

An ex-gamekeeper from Derbyshire, who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals on his new business, has spoken out about his own experiences.

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He was forced to leave the profession after being the victim of vexatious accusations online by an anti-shooting group. The targeted attacks left him ill and impacted his relationship with his partner.

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.

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“Living rurally, we were isolated and alone. I ended up watching cars at night to make sure no one was outside.

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"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.”

Abuse via social media channels is a rising issue for gamekeepers, with 56 per cent of respondents recording an increase in the number of incidents over the last 12 months compared to previous years.

More than 30 per cent of the respondents who have been targeted also recorded increases in physical and verbal abuse.

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Richard Bailey, gamekeeper and Peak District Moorland Group co-ordinator, said: "We have been subject to social media stalking and online attacks, and even verbal and physical abuse. The targeted abuse impacts not just the individual but also their family.”

Environment secretary George Eustice added: “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.”