CLAIMS of illegal fox hunting in the UK have been massively exaggerated, according to new figures.
A Freedom of Information request found police have received 1,600 reports of illegal hunting in five years but have arrested just 83 people and charged only 30.
It means only 5 percent of complaints about breaches of the 2004 Hunting Act—which bans fox hunting and hare coursing—have led to legal action.
Police said the figures reflect the fact that the vast majority of reported cases by animal rights group lack evidence.
The FOI to UK police forces showed there had been 51 arrests over hare coursing and just four for foxhunting. Figures did not reveal how many prosecutions succeeded.
Animal rights campaigners allege foxhunting still takes place but the figures failed to support their claims.
The have also accused officers of failing to crackdown on allegations of huntsmen and women breaching the law.
The League Against Cruel Sports demanded more police action and a tougher law.
Police chiefs said reports were often invalid or “inadequate” but forces were working to improve prosecution rates.
The 2004 Hunting Act banned the chasing of wild animals, including hares, stags and foxes, by two dogs or more.
Details included in the responses revealed that 51 arrests were for alleged hare coarsing, 18 arrests were for suspected deer hunting, six for allegations of rabbit hunting and just four for suspected illegal fox hunting.
National Police Chiefs’ Council hunting spokesman, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Netherton, said: “Police forces receive a large number of reports of illegal hunting activity.
“Unfortunately many of these reports are invalid and the evidence supplied to forces is often inadequate, meaning that police officers are unable to take action.
“We are committed to cracking down on illegal hunting and want to help improve the quality of evidence submitted to police forces.
“We are working with the League Against Cruel Sports to achieve this and using their guidance to help protest groups to provide usable evidence.
“Officers will be undertaking up-to-date training on how to effectively respond to illegal hunting and we are working with the Crown Prosecution Service in an effort to improve prosecution rates.”