Police have voiced their 'disappointment' over a wildlife group's failure to provide apparent evidence about alleged offences against badgers in Derbyshire.
Last month, officers from the Derbyshire Rural Crime Team saw a video on social media which claimed to show apparent crimes being committed against the protected animals.
The team urged the group which filmed the video to liaise with Derbyshire Constabulary so police could ‘properly investigate’.
We also got in touch with a representative from the group and advised them to contact the force.
However, officers now say the group's 'lack of contact with police and refusal to release unedited footage indicates that criminal prosecutions and the truth are not among their priorities' and the investigation is no longer active at this time.
In a statement, Derbyshire Rural Crime Team said: "Last month, a video was posted on social media purportedly evidencing a hunt master committing offences against wildlife. Prior to the video being released, we had no contact from those who filmed or circulated the footage. Despite our requests for the unedited footage and any further evidence since the post appeared, we have received nothing.
"The matter is clearly of public interest, in the interests of the wildlife of Derbyshire and of interest to those who have been accused of committing the offences. As such, it deserved to be investigated properly for the truth to be established and, if the evidence warranted it, for the matter to be heard in court.
"Unfortunately, due to receiving nothing from those in possession of alleged evidence, we have not been able to investigate the matter properly. Not being ones to simply give up, we have attempted to investigate it as best we can. We have visited the locations mentioned in the online posts and asked the hunt master to attend the police station to be formally interviewed under caution. He obliged.
"Taking into account the available edited footage, online posts, visits out in the field and the account given in interview, there is no evidence currently in our possession that proves offences have been committed. Therefore, the investigation is no longer active at this time.
"Obviously, if further information should come to light, the matter will be further investigated.
"We would like take this opportunity to express our disappointment with those who purported to have gathered evidence and to have exposed people who perpetrated alleged crimes.
"The motives of those involved are unclear, however, their lack of contact with police and refusal to release unedited footage indicates that criminal prosecutions and the truth are not among their priorities. For the avoidance of doubt, those things are very much our priorities.
"A video can be edited to show what the editors want it to show. It can distort the truth and lead to conclusions being drawn that may not reflect the reality of what has happened. We do not know the reality of this case as unedited footage has not been provided and, therefore, viewed. As stated, the evidence available does not prove that any criminal activity has occurred.
"If those involved truly want to protect wildlife and prevent animal cruelty, in future they need to act in a timely manner by contacting the police as soon as offences are suspected, not post on social media months later.
"If they or anyone else would like to talk to us regarding this, or any other matter, you know where we are."
The Derbyshire Rural Crime Team can be called on 101.