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Fake ewes: Ministry of Justice crime data disproves Welsh ‘sheep sh****r’ myth

02 Dec 2020 3 minute read
A sheep. Picture by Nennieinszweidrei on Pixabay.

If you are Welsh you probably will have been called a ‘sheep  sh****r more’ than once over the years.

However, crime data disclosed by the Ministry of Justice has disproved the myth.

The data was released by the MoJ in response to a freedom of information request by a member of the public – and it suggests that sheep-bothering is less of a problem in Wales than over the border.

According to the document, which can be found on the MoJ website, it was asked: “How many convictions have been secured for illegal sexual acts with sheep, and bestiality acts in general, since 2007?

“If you provide information by country, could you please specify how many in England and Wales respectively?”

The release states that a total of 27 people have been convicted of the offence of having sexual intercourse with an animal in England and Wales between 2007 and 2016.

Of those offences, 25 took place in courts in England, and only two in Wales. The document however does not specify which type of animal was involved in in the cases.

It states: “Between 2007 and 2016 (latest currently available) a total of 27 people have been convicted of the offence of having sexual intercourse with an animal contrary to sections 69(1) & (3) and 69(2) & (3) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

“Of these convictions, 25 took place in courts in England and the remaining two occurred in courts in Wales.”


‘Legal basis’ 

The data was disclosed under the freedom of information act 2000. The document goes on to explain the legal basis for not including the type of animal involved in the cases is exempt from disclosure.

It states: “The information on the specific type of animal involved in these cases is exempt from disclosure under section 32 of the FOIA because it is held in a court record.

“Under section 32(1)(c) information is exempt if it is a document created by (i)a court / (ii)a member of the administrative staff of a court for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter.

“The reason for section 32 is not to do with the issue of whether information is a public record or not, it is to preserve the courts control over court records.

“Even if a document may have been made public at the hearing it ceases to be a public record after the hearing and then becomes protected by virtue of section 32.

“It was not the intention that the FOIA should provide indirect access to court records; the greater public interest was considered to lie in the preservation of the courts’ own procedures for considering disclosure.

“Section 32 is an absolute exemption and there is no duty to consider the public interest in disclosure.”

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