Police boss quizzed on targeting resources to protect seals

Visiting the seals is a quinnesential norfolk winter patime. Here a baby seal pup at Horsey.
Pictur

No extra police resources for tackling seal abuse - Credit: James Bass © 2015

Norfolk's police and crime commissioner has faced questions from a council leader about targeting resources at protecting seals on the coast from harassment and harm.

Giles Orpen-Smellie was asked about the subject at a police and crime panel meeting by Tim Adams, a county councillor and leader of North Norfolk District Council.

Mr Adams said the mistreatment of seals by members of the public was a "high profile issue" in his area.

It follows a number of recent incidents, including reports of stones being thrown at the creatures, and unleashed dogs attacking them.

He asked Mr Orpen-Smellie what "strategic work" was planned to address the subject.

However, the commissioner replied that there were no extra resources available.

"I would like to assure people it is on the radar at a strategic level, we do understand that it is an issue that is of particular interest in north Norfolk," he said.

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“For my view, I have to adopt a fairly hard-nosed view and just look at where that issue sits in competition with other priorities and therefore what resources are available to it.

"At the end of the day, that’s really a question I have to leave to the constabulary. I would love to say we can do much more about seals but I have then got to balance that book.

"And remember I could make similar promises to everybody. I couldn’t then honour all those cheques I am writing.”

Tim Adams (Liberal Democrats) is standing for Cromer division.

Tim Adams (Liberal Democrats) North Norfolk County Councillor for Cromer division. - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrat

Paul Sanford, Norfolk’s chief constable, promised the police's full support when incidents involving seals reached the threshold of RSPCA or criminal investigation. 

He added: “I think there is a broader challenge that we could work on with your district around the communication and awareness."

The discussion follows several recent reports of seals being disturbed by members of the public. In February, Ben Garrod, an academic at the University of East Anglia, pulled an unleashed dog off of a seal.

And last year, police were called to reports that a group of people were attacking a seal on Great Yarmouth beach with stones. In another incident, police investigated claims that motorcyclists were seen riding over a seal pup on Sea Palling beach. It is not known if the animals were alive or dead at the time.

Norfolk's newly-elected Police and Crome Commissioner, Gile Orpen-Smellie is officially sworn into t

Norfolk's newly-elected Police and Crome Commissioner, Gile Orpen-Smellie is officially sworn into the role. Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan