THE Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has assured residents issues such as wildlife crime are taken “very seriously”, and denied speed cameras were used to generate income for the force.

In a live webchat on Monday, Chief Constable Dave Jones spent an hour responding to questions from people on a variety of topics, including the allegations the York and Ainsty South Hunt broke the law during a ride at Escrick Park, near Selby, on December 28.

One webchat participant asked: “Do you take wildlife crime seriously enough? You used to have the manpower to police hunt sabs. When are you going to find the manpower to police the hunts?”

Mr Jones said Operation Hawk was set up in July to target rural and cross-border crime and had made more than 50 arrests. Mr Jones said the force took rural and wildlife crime “very seriously”, and said investigations were ongoing into the Escrick Park hunt.

Questions were also raised about mobile speed camera vans which are posted on roads around the county.

One participant asked how many of the serious accidents where the vans were located could be attributable to excessive speeds and was it that the cameras were “just a nice money maker?”.

Mr Jones said fines from the cameras went to the Treasury, while speed awareness courses provided a £35 levy to North Yorkshire Police, which went towards the running of the safety cameras and future road safety projects.

He said: “The vans are deployed to routes identified through intelligence and collision data as well as those highlighted by local communities who are blighted by speeding motorists. These routes are regularly reviewed and updated with the latest information.

“This is certainly not about income generation – it’s about your safety and mine. We still, however, are trying to address what is a too high cost of inappropriate speeding and the injuries that result.”

Mr Jones was also praised for the work of North Yorkshire Police, with one person stating the county was “lucky to have them”, and he was asked how he coped with negative comments or attitudes towards the police.

He said: “It’s always good to receive positive comments, and as you might expect, I agree with them. Police officers are resilient and appreciate what goes in the media isn’t always a true reflection of the good work, skills and compassion they show on a daily basis. Contrast what’s written about them with the feedback they get from the public.”