The number of animal extremism attacks on farms is “relatively low” but producers should remain vigilant, said Superintendent Steve Pearl, at the 2007 BEIC/NFU National Egg Conference.

In March 2006-Feb 2007, there were 39 reported incidents on intensive farms in the UK, said Superintendent Pearl, the head of National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU). 

These included attacks on Deans Foods, Bernard Matthews and Lloyds Animal Feeds.  But he reassured the attendees at the conference, held on 22 March in Hinckley, Leicestershire that the number of attacks was relatively low when compared to the thousands of reported incidents at research centres.

“Fortunately, I don’t see with the national picture a concerted effort against any particular intensive farming company.  But there are ad-hoc incidents.  I’m not diminishing the effect of those because they can be very distressing and damaging economically,” said Superintendent Pearl.

He explained that the main targets are research centres and universities where animal testing takes place.  The number of reported attacks breaks down into 70% for companies that conduct animal testing and research, 12% relate to anti fur, with the remaining 18% made up of farming incidents, foie gras and captive animals, among others.

The Police is currently running 27 policing operations nationally, 17 substantial operations and investigations, and 11 other smaller local investigations.

The new national police unit has now been in operation for three years.  The team collects information on all animal rights crimes and incidents that are reported to the police service in the UK.  Superintendent Pearl said: “The information is forwarded onto us within 24 hours and at any given day we have a national picture that’s fairly comprehensive.” 

“I would urge you to report any suspicious incidents because often it could be a precursor to a criminal attack,” he added.