The ancient tradition of burning witches could be banned in rural Suffolk as early as next year, it has emerged.
Human rights campaigners have lobbied hard for police and local authorities to clamp down on the explicit public executions.
The rest of Britain banned witch-burning hundreds of years ago, but around five witches are executed in Suffolk each year, mostly in the rural north and west of the county.
Up until now, authorities have turned a blind eye because it’s a tradition going back hundreds of years – and nobody likes witches.
But now civil rights group Witch Watch has forced a rethink. Chairperson Lorraine Fisher, 34, said: “Suffolk is the last place in the UK where witches are routinely burnt at the stake.
“One or two drown during dunking trials in The Fens, but burning is barbaric.
“Witch hunts have to come to an end. This isn’t the Middle Ages any more.”
Some rural community leaders and church officials are furious at the move.
The Rev Evan Elpuss, who preaches around the Brandon area in north-west Suffolk, said: “Witch Watch and their cronies are the work of the devil. We’ll still catch and burn witches whether they like it or not.
“The work of the WitchFinder General continues here in Suffolk.”
Suffolk County Council’s rural affairs committee will vote on the witch-burning ban later this summer. If they approve, police have said they will have no choice but to enforce it.
A spokesman said: “If we catch any villagers burning a witch, there will be consequences.”
Currently, anyone found doing so faces a maximum fine of £25 plus £10 compensation to the witch’s family.
It is believed there have been one or two errors with rabble-rousers burning innocent people, including a BT Open Reach engineer who was simply trying to install new-fangled internet functionality in Buttsford.