Parkes-Thornley Associates consultants, trainers & investigators in countryside law


Our published titles include:


Deer: Law and Liabilities

Fair Game - The Law of Country Sports and the Protection of Wildlife - Pelham Books

The Hidden Glen by Carla Parkes

Shaggy Dog Stories - Gamekeepers Welfare Trust

Law of the Countryside - Countryside Management Association

Deer: Law and Liabilities published in 2000 and fully revised in 2009

 AVAILABLE NOW - See the link to the publishers at


The completely revised and updated edition deals with the law and liabilities relating to deer in the UK.  In addition one chapter deals with Europe in terms of visitors to and from the continent.

Deer have value as a conservation resource and as a traditional sporting quarry.  However, they have increased in numbers, and as a consequence the need for deer management has greatly increased.  Management issues increasingly focus on the legal implications of the welfare of the deer, public safety and maintaining a balance between economic activities and environmental conservation. 

This is all covered in Deer: Law and Liabilities.

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"Everything you will ever want to know about deer legislation and related firearms law is in this book; it's a definitive reference that every stalker should have - so go buy one".  BASC Shooting & Conservation
"... the reader will have the confidence to then assume that every single area of deer stalking has been covered.  As important as a good rifle scope".  Shooting Gazette
"Now in its second edition, this guide has earned itself a reputation as the definitive work on its subject".  CLA Land & Business

Review from Journal of British Deer Society Spring 2009

Not only is the law surrounding deer, their conservation and management complex, it is also a constantly changing picture. Even within the last decade we have seen substantial changes to the regulations governing the taking of deer in England and Wales, a new European game meat hygiene Directive, the abolition of Game  Licences - south of the Scottish border at least - and an end to the Game Dealer's licence. Not to speak of several new rafts of firearms legislation and changes to the way in which it is administered by Police firearms licensing departments.

When Charlie Parkes and John Thornley first produced their book Deer: Law and Liabilities in 2000 it instantly became a primary work of reference to all those who deal with deer and the law on a regular basis. Now this valuable book has at last been updated and fully revised. The result is welcome indeed.

The authors have kept to the same format, covering issues of legal ownership, conservation and protection before looking at venison sales, firearms, trespass, poaching and the liabilities connected with stalking. Each chapter, however, has been amended to take account of recent changes in law and practice, making this the most up to date reference work on UK deer law available. For the technically minded, there is an extensive table of Statutes affecting deer and deer management, while the authors have also included a list of relevant legal cases.

It is not only deer which are covered by this revised version. With wild boar now acknowledged by Government as being established in the wild in England, this species too is considered in some detail.

Both Parkes and Thornley were formerly senior police officers and they are now consultants in countryside law. They are also both keen and knowledgeable field sportsmen, with John Thornley being an experienced deer stalker, so they fully understand the needs of the deer manager and it is refreshing to see in their
book that practicality is not obscured by technicality.

Deer: Law and Liability is published in a handy paperback format, with black and white line illustrations by Diana Brown throughout and a new cover photograph by Helen Carson. It should be regarded as an essential reference work for the serious manager of deer in Britain.       GD

Reviews Shooting Gazette May 2009

AT A TIME when a growing number of people are taking up stalking, spurred on by the will to control this country's endemic deer population, the need to understand law is just as important as knowing how and when to squeeze the trigger.

Messrs Parkes and Thornley have certainly been thorough over its 10 chapters. Even though the book   should by no means be seen as light  reading, if you are in doubt about a point of law regarding conservation and protection issues, or even trespass, then it will give you the answer.
Although the subject matter is heavy, the writing style is by no means stuffy, and the authors have   related a complicated set of rules and regulations both clearly and concisely.
A number of well-known front- line figures in the countryside are acknowledged at the beginning of the book, so the reader will have the confidence to then assume that every single area of deer stalking has been covered. As important as a good rifle scope.

Reviews - 2000

Deer Magazine April 2000


Charlie Parkes & John Thornley 2000.210 pp. Sketches by Diana Brown. Swan Hill Press, 101 Longden Road, Shrewsbury Shropshire, SY3 9EB. £16.95


AT LAST! Everything the deer stalker and manager needs to know about the plethora of legislation that affects him, both directly and indirectly, set out clearly and concisely in one comprehensive little paperback book, which covers the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is bang up to date. The text is relieved by a number of Diana Brown's attractive sketches, with which we are all familiar, and which are a welcome diversion for the reader straining to absorb the mind-boggling ramifications of the legislation which abound on almost every page. It is written by two senior police officers in the Derbyshire  Constabulary, who happen also to be the longest serving Wildlife Liaison Officers in the country, and their combined wealth of experience is crammed between the covers of this volume.


This excellent work of reference covers the following topics: legal status and ownership of deer, conservation and protection of the species, crop protection, dealing in venison, firearms, stalking liabilities, trespass and poaching. It also includes a daunting list of statutes (no less than 81 altogether, many of which were only vaguely familiar to me and a number of which I had either never heard of or never imagined even remotely involved deer), a list of legal cases, bibliography, useful addresses and contacts, and an index.


This is not the kind of concentrated heavy reading you need necessarily to plough straight through from cover to cover; it is principally a work of reference, and while reviewing it I found myself skipping back and forth quite happily in order to follow leads of particular interest. Throughout the book, the relevant sections of the legislation are either quoted verbatim or summarised where appropriate, and are followed by the authors' interpretation, often backed by references to Home Office directive and/or legal precedent where available, and rounded off with sound practical advice for the reader. As a DSC Level 1 instructor with first hand experience of trying to expand on the Deer and Firearms Legislation sections of the Training Manual, I found that this book provides eminently sensible and practical answers to many of the thorny questions most frequently raised by students on my courses, and I shall certainly recommend it to them in future as a valuable additional source of enlightenment and guidance.


It is both most refreshing and highly encouraging to find two senior

police officers with such a thorough grasp of deer related legislation, combined with such a reasonable and pragmatic attitude to the practicalities of its interpretation and enforcement. If only all police forces had such well informed and competent officers on their staff! The ramifications of the new Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 are fully explored, as are also those of the latest Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, and as a result of the latter the 1989 Home Office publication "Firearms Law: Guidance to the Police" is clearly in urgent need of review. However, in the

meantime the powers that be could surely do no better than to make this excellent work compulsory reading for police Firearms and Wildlife Liaison officers throughout the country.


I can certainly recommend this book without reservation to all those concerned with keeping within the law and avoiding laying themselves open inadvertently to prosecution when stalking or managing deer.



The Field July 2000


To whom do wild deer belong? If you thought the answer was “To the owner of the land they’re on” you were wrong. In fact they belong to nobody, but are ferae naturae, wild creatures of nature. Only when dead do they become the property of the landowner.

This is one of several hundred points settled with exceptional precision and good sense by Charlie Parkes and John Thomley, both senior police officers in the Derbyshire Constabulary, and Wildlife Liaison Officers to boot. They cover every conceivable legal and practical aspect of deer management: stalking, conservation, ownership and use of firearms, venison-handling, dealing with poachers, the right to shoot trespassing dogs, and so on.

An enormous amount of experience has gone into this book, and the information it contains will make even seasoned deer managers think again. How many stalkers, for instance, realise that if you are carrying a gralloching knife, it is wise to tuck it away out of sight in any public place, because if somebody challenges you, “you may have to prove that you have a reasonable excuse or good reason” for having the knife on your person?

The authors know their subject inside-out and write so clearly that their text, although purely instructional, is a pleasure to read.

Duff Hart-Davis


Sporting Rifles


Now here is a book that will be of interest to rifle shooters throughout the United Kingdom, and any stalkers or hunters thinking of coming over here for a holiday, or on a more permanent basis. Charlie Parkes and John Thornley are two senior police officers with Derbyshire Constabulary, who, since 1983, have been working as Wildlife Liaison Officers within their county. This role has enabled them to develop an excellent knowledge of countryside matters and related laws: evidence of which has been amply illustrated in their 1987 publication "Fair Game - The Law of Country Sports and the Protection of Wildlife".


Parkes and Thornley's latest offering, "Deer: Law and Liabilities", is targeted at the rifleman, and more specifically, the deer stalker, and it is bang up to date on current legislation. Consisting of 10 chapters, spread through 210 pages, they deal in turn with topics such as Legal Status and Ownership, Conservation and Protection, Dealing in Venison, Firearms for Deer, Stalking Liabilities, Trespass and Poaching. The writing is in an easy but concise style, without much of the legal mumbo-jumbo that can so easily serve to confuse. Diana Browne's well-known style of line drawings, serve to illustrate various points.


Whilst primarily aimed at those readers whose main quarry is deer, many of the topics covered are of interest to the vermin shooter too. There are details on Firearms Certificates, and how to complete the application form; as well as information for visitors to Britain, with the ins and outs of obtaining a Visitors Firearms Permit. Do you know how you stand liable if a member of the public, or another stalker, chooses to injure themselves whilst climbing on one of your highseats? Armed with this book, you can lay to rest that old chestnut of an argument over how close you may stand to a public right of way whilst shooting....


The chapter on Dealing in Venison is enlightening. Full-time game dealers should have heard it all before, but the concise details will be a great help to any part-timers, any would-be dealers, and any stalker selling deer to them; containing, as it does, details on cleanliness, carcass inspection and record keeping.

Scotland, with many of its own regulations, merits its own chapter on Conservation and Protection. Additionally, throughout the book, there are references to laws peculiar to Scotland, which will come in useful to anyone planning a stalking trip north of the border.


Parkes & Thornley are to be congratulated on producing such a readable (and understandable) manuscript. Let us hope that future legislation on gun control plays no part in affecting the long shelf-life that this book deserves. It really should be considered a "must have" for the sporting rifle shooter - and it might not be a bad idea to keep a spare copy in your vehicle's glove compartment either!