“It’s just totally lawless out here”: A rural green criminological exploration of foxhunting, policing, and ‘regulatory capture.’



Fox hunting, rural criminology, green criminology, regulatory capture, policing


Despite having been banned by the Hunting Act (2004), the practice of fox-hunting with hounds still persists on a significant scale in the UK (Agerholme, 2019). Nevertheless, foxhunting remains a relatively understudied topic within criminological research, potentially as a result of it being both an example of rural and green crime, both of which have been traditionally marginalised in mainstream criminology (Donnermeyer and DeKeseredy, 2014). In an effort to partially redress this, this paper applies the concept of ‘regulatory capture’ to the case of foxhunting, in order to explore the policing of foxhunting 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 foxhunting in rural England and Wales. The concept of ‘regulatory capture’ is useful in identifying “the process through which special interests affect state intervention in any of its forms” (Dal Bo, 2006: 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. We find that regulatory capture provides a compelling potential explanation for police reluctance to address wildlife crime like foxhunting.

Author Biographies

Lynne Graham, Northumbria University

Lynne Graham, is a PhD candidate in Criminology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She is also an anti-hunt activist. Her research interests are domestic Wildlife Criminology, predominantly hunting with hounds. Focusing on the Hunting Act (2004), Lynne’s doctoral research project examines the policing of organised fox hunting and anti-hunt activism in England and Wales. She draws on critical criminology perspectives, to approach fox hunting as a “Crime of the powerful”  exploring how the criminal justice system is failing wildlife, and those who protect them.

Tanya Wyatt, Northumbria University

Tanya Wyatt, is a Professor of Criminology at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. She is a green criminologist specialising in wildlife crime and trafficking and non-human animal abuse. Much of her research focuses on the intersection of green crime and organised crime, corporate crime, and corruption. She is the author of ‘Is CITES Protecting Wildlife? assessing implementation and compliance’ and ‘Wildlife Trafficking: a deconstruction of the crime, victims and offenders Second edition’ and the co-author (with Dr Angus Nurse) of Wildlife Criminology.

Nathan Stephens-Griffin, Northumbria University

Nathan Stephens-Griffin, is a senior lecturer at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. He works across the disciplines of sociology, criminology and critical animal studies. His most recent research focuses on state/corporate repression of social movements, particularly the undercover policing of ecological protest. He is also interested in biographical, visual, and graphic narrative approaches to social research. He is the author of ‘Understanding Veganism: Biography and Identity‘ which was published by Palgrave in 2017.