This is a joint statement from North Wales Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Our operational response to hunting is based on advice from the NPCC which recognises that 'hunting with hounds is an emotive subject, bringing with it support, opposition and commentary from a wide spectrum of society, amplified by social media in this modern policing world'.

We acknowledge the provisions of the Hunting Act 2004 which legitimise certain types of hunting.

We acknowledge, in equal measure, that those who are opposed to hunting have the right to protest.

We are fully committed to investigate and, where evidence exists, to bring to justice any person found breaking the law. This is a complex piece of legislation and many facets need to be evidenced for the complete offence to be proved.

Chief Supt Nigel Harrison, Specialist Operation lead, said: ‘We have been running a dedicated operation for many years during the hunting season, which has sought to balance the right of those who wish to protest against hunting and those who wish to undertake lawful activities.

'This operation has involved a small number of officers and on occasions drones have been deployed to try to capture evidence of any unlawful activity, including any illegal hunting.

‘Our dedicated Rural Crime Team are passionate about protecting wildlife and they review any evidence available that might support prosecution under hunting legislation. To be clear, we will not tolerate criminal harassment or trespass and neither will we shy away from investigating those who may be unlawfully hunting. We seek to engage with all parties and do our utmost to remain impartial.

'We remain committed to ensuring that we meet our duty to protect our communities and to keep the public safe and we will continue to try to engage with all parties.’

Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: ‘Hunting is an emotive subject with strong feelings on both sides of the argument and the police tread a fine line in policing such events impartially.

'There is a perception that the police side with the hunting fraternity, but the role of the police is, in the main, to keep the peace and to police the provisions of the Hunting Act. However, in my opinion, loopholes within this Act make it almost impossible to gain a conviction, hence the perception that the police are not acting impartially.

‘The North Wales Rural Crime Team Twitter account is unusual in that it is not risk averse in what it posts and as a consequence has a large number of followers. Not everything they publish is universally approved and they have had to mute and block a number of accounts in the past because of the content.

'As with all policing roles the rural policing teams police communities where there are tensions and there are difficulties in maintaining balance and impartiality.’