Despite having been banned by the Hunting Act (2004), and widespread public opposition, the practice of fox hunting with hounds still persists on a significant scale (Agerholm, 2019). Nevertheless, fox hunting remains a relatively understudied topic within criminological research, potentially as a result of it being an example of both rural and green crime, each of which have been traditionally marginalised in mainstream criminology (Donnermeyer & DeKeseredy, 2014). In an effort to partially redress this, this paper applies the concept of ‘regulatory capture’ to the case of fox hunting, in order to explore the policing of fox hunting through a rural green criminological lens. Drawing on 43 qualitative interviews and freedom of information requests to police forces, the paper critically examines the policing of fox hunting in rural England and Wales. The concept of ‘regulatory capture’ is useful in identifying “the process through which special interests affects state intervention in any of its forms” (Dal Bo, 2006, p. 203). We examine three related themes that were identified within the data. These are: the influence of industry; offenders as informers; and police who hunt. Whilst further research is needed to confirm it, we argue that regulatory capture might provide one compelling potential explanation for police reluctance to address wildlife crimes like fox hunting.
|Accepted/In press - 12 May 2022