Police step up war on animal extremists

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The Independent Online

A special police squad is to be set up to investigate the activities of animal rights extremists, chief police officers announced yesterday. It will concentrate on the leaders of groups suspected of harassing and intimidating staff and shareholders of companies that use animals in scientific research.

A special police squad is to be set up to investigate the activities of animal rights extremists, chief police officers announced yesterday. It will concentrate on the leaders of groups suspected of harassing and intimidating staff and shareholders of companies that use animals in scientific research.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said the unit would be based at the National Crime Squad in London and would draw officers from forces across England and Wales.

The announcement came as the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, visited Huntingdon Life Sciences, the drug-testing company in Cambridgeshire that has been the target of a campaign of violence by animal rights protesters. Mr Straw said: "We will not tolerate a small number of criminals trying to threaten research organisations and companies ... They are undertaking medical and other research which is essential for the benefit of us all, and it is vital that this work continues."

Tony Burden, Acpo president and Chief Constable of South Wales, said the police squad would target a "small minority of extremists". He said: "We recognise the right to demonstrate legally but we will deal vigorously with those who break the law either in public order situations or in committing serious criminal offences."

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