Gamekeeper survey reports alarming increase in abuse

A survey, undertaken by BASC, Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers Association and National Gamekeepers Organisation, has revealed the shocking statistic that almost two-thirds of gamekeepers across the UK have received abuse and threats as a direct result of their profession.

With over 1,000 responses, the survey undertaken at the end of 2020, produces a snapshot of the national picture.

The findings highlight:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of gamekeepers have experienced abuse and/or threats because of their occupation.
  • Abuse via social media channels is a rising issue for gamekeepers, with 56% of respondents recording an increase in the number of incidents over the last 12 months compared to previous years.
  • Respondents who have been targeted also recorded increases in physical (32%) and verbal (37%) abuse.
  • Some gamekeepers also reported that the pressure of being targeted for doing their job has led directly to the breakdown of personal relationships.

Commenting on the report findings, the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “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.”

The survey was completed following a Scottish Government funded report into gamekeeper abuse highlighted similar findings. The findings led to Scottish Government minister Ben Macpherson condemning the abuse.

BASC intends to work with government and devolved administrations to raise awareness of the findings and ensure gamekeepers have all the resources available to them to ensure they are protected at their workplace and because of their occupation. BASC is urging anyone who is victim to online or verbal abuse to contact the police on 101.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said: “The survey reinforces what we have been seeing and hearing in the last couple of years. Attacks on the gamekeeping profession are unwarranted and highly damaging. Gamekeepers, like other job sectors, should be free to undertake their profession without fear of attack or abuse.

“Much of this aggressive behaviour on the ground is a product of targeted campaigns by those against shooting. While debate and a difference of opinion is welcome, shooting organisations are calling on those against shooting to consider the consequences of their publicity stunts and social media campaigns.

Helen Benson, from the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust, a charity set up to help the welfare of gamekeepers, has also seen an increase in recent events.

She said: “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.”

The full report can be read here.