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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: Pete Charleston, Bat Conservation Trust
Vice Chair: David Cowdrey, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Information & Policy Coordinator: Jodie Le Marquand, Link

Update from the Group

Domestic Wildlife Crime

In 2018, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) launched England and Wales’s first Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy, running from 2018-2021. Produced in close consultation with many members of the Group, the Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy contains much to be welcomed, including echoing our calls for improved recording of wildlife crime. A key focus of the Group in 2019 is to help to deliver the objectives in this landmark strategy.

Publication of this strategy demonstrated clear consensus between the police and the NGO sector, and strengthened the case for the Home Office and Defra to make the urgent improvements needed to protect our wildlife from criminal activity. We were very pleased, therefore, to respond to a consultation in March on making wildlife crime recordable – the consultation is further proof of Link’s influence and impact on this important issue. We will continue to support the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in its pitch to the National Crime Registrar for improved recording of wildlife crime.

To strengthen our calls for improvements to wildlife crime recording further, in late 2018 Wildlife and Countryside Link and Wales Environment Link published their second Annual Wildlife Crime Report – this time looking at crime in 2017. Link members are currently preparing the report using 2018 statistics which will be launched at a parliamentary reception in October. The group will continue to produce Annual Wildlife Crime Reports until Government implements central recording of wildlife crime and produces its own annual report – as is done by the Scottish Government. At present, data on wildlife crime, such as that collected by Link members, are piecemeal and difficult to collate. Recording wildlife crime centrally would allow Government and police forces across England and Wales to track trends and allocate resources much more efficiently.

The Animal Welfare (sentencing) Bill is now at Committee stage. In July, the Wildlife Crime Group wrote a letter to the Committee expressing support for the Bill.

International work

Ahead of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of the Parties (CoP18, the Group wrote to Defra Minister, Therese Coffey MP, setting out its collective priorities for the conference, and welcoming engagement from the UK authorities both before and during the CoP. Group members also had a valuable opportunities to discuss proposals for the CoP and align their own priorities.

In August, the group responded to Defra’s call for evidence on non-elephant ivory trade. The group focused its briefing on hippo ivory.

Many Group members played a prominent part in the landmark London International Wildlife Trade Conference in 2018. 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. Additionally, in May members of the group wrote to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, advocating for stronger protections for giraffes.

For further information, contact Jodie Le Marquand, Link's Information & Policy Coordinator

Last updated: 2 September 2019