When the Police seize property as a result of criminal investigations or a court orders the confiscation of property, it is auctioned off (assuming, of course, it cannot be returned to its rightful owner) and the money placed in the Police Property Fund. Grants are then awarded from the fund to local community and voluntary projects which will have a positive impact on reducing crime and disorder.
A £3,000 grant was made from the North Yorkshire Police Property Fund to enable primary school children from Middlesbrough, Billingham and Ryedale to visit the North York Moors during the summer to learn about the moorland and its wildlife. It all sounds very worthy but, as the learning was delivered solely by gamekeepers, I am a little uneasy that the children will not have been given a balanced view of these intensively managed driven grouse moors. Was the control of predators mentioned, predators that include birds of prey? I am sure the subject could be covered with details appropriate to the children’s ages without being too horrific. Were all the consequences of heather burning included – release of carbon, soil degradation, drying out of the peat and increased risks of flooding downstream?
It seems a great use of the fund to get inner-city kids into the countryside but I would be much happier if, say, a representative of the RSPB could have been involved in the delivery of the learning as well to maintain a balance. Driven grouse shooting is a very controversial topic. What’s the saying “Get them while they’re young and bend their minds.” This could be said to be one of the unintended consequences of austerity: cash-strapped schools seizing every opportunity to get the kids outdoors.
I should point out that this photo of Swainby Shooting Hut is on Whorlton Moor. I believe the children’s visits were to Spaunton Moor, to the west of Rosedale, not the same estate.