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Wildlife Crime

The Wildlife Crime Working Group works to improve the conservation and protection of wild flora and fauna threatened by domestic wildlife crime and international trade, also seeking to address the associated welfare issues. The working group aims to ensure the effective enforcement of UK wildlife laws and the proper implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and relevant EU directives.

Chair: Mark Jones, Born Free Foundation
Vice Chair: Peter Charleston, Bat Conservation Trust
Policy and Campaigns Manager: Zoe Davies, Link

Update from the Group

Domestic Wildlife Crime

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) recently launched England and Wales’s first Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy, running from 2018-2021. It was launched alongside a Rural Affairs Strategy at the NPCC Rural Affairs Summit, which a number of Group members attended. Produced in close consultation with many members of this group, the Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy contains much to be welcomed, including echoing our calls for improved recording of wildlife crime.

Shortly before the launch of this strategy, members met with Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins, to advocate for better central recording of wildlife crime. The Minister noted that any changes to the way in which wildlife crime is recorded must have the full support of the police. Publication of this strategy demonstrates that there is clear consensus between the police and the NGO sector, therefore strengthening the case for Home Office to make the urgent improvements needed to protect our wildlife from criminals. The Group is now supporting the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in their pitch to the National Crime Registrar for improved recording of wildlife crime.

The Group also responded to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on generic sentencing guidelines for crimes where no specific guideline exists – which includes the vast majority of wildlife crimes. The Group urged that sentencing guidelines take account of the negative impact of wildlife offences not just on people and rural communities, but on the welfare and conservation status of affected species and habitats. Members also highlighted that many wildlife criminals are also linked to other types of offence, including dangerous and pervasive organised crime.

International work

Many Group members played a prominent part in the landmark London International Wildlife Trade Conference in October. The conference, organised jointly by the Home Office, Foreign Office and Defra, brought together 1,500 delegates from over 80 countries including numerous Heads of State and Ministers. Heads of State signed a Declaration promising to increase action to tackle the illicit financial flows associated with wildlife trafficking and related corruption, and welcomed action to treat wildlife offences as predicate offences, including for money laundering crimes. However, the lack of tangible, clear, time-bound, measurable commitments in the Declaration leaves a feeling of an opportunity missed, and will make it hard to hold governments to account in spite of their fine words.

For further information, contact Zoe Davies, Link’s Policy and Campaigns Manager.

Last updated: 6 November 2018