Wildlife crimes going unpunished without reporting process
A new report we have part-funded has found that crimes against wildlife are going unpunished, as figures are not being properly recorded and assessed.
Alongside Wildlife and Countryside Link, we are calling for the Government to make all wildlife crimes recordable in England and Wales. Click here for full report.
Wildlife crime is a significant threat to conservation, animal welfare and the wider environment. However, unlike in Scotland, most wildlife crimes in England and Wales are currently recorded as ‘miscellaneous’ offences, which means they are invisible crimes in police records. Enforcement officers are working hard to tackle this area of crime, but they are hindered by the lack of a proper recording and reporting process.
The report also found frustration with the current system and overwhelming support for wildlife crime to be made recordable. The research collates and reports on data collected by charities on various types of wildlife crime, which provides an idea of the scale and nature of offences.
Underestimation of wildlife crimes
The research shows that there were more than 4,000 wildlife crime offences between 2010 and 2015. However, this figure vastly underestimates the scale of the problem as details of many types of offences are not collected by charities, and they use different methods to collect the data.
Alyx Elliott, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection said, “Wildlife crimes should be officially recorded by the Government so that we can be clear about the size and spread of the problem. Animals are suffering and losing their lives but currently there is not an effective way to assess the full scale of these crimes and therefore allocate resources appropriately.”
Most wildlife crime data is not collated through police forces or the Home Office and is not reported upon, resulting in a lack of prioritisation of resources to tackle wildlife crime. Additionally, whilst some offences are recordable, such as the import/export of illegal wildlife products, there is no central collection of convictions, or up-to-date guidance for the sentencing of those found guilty.
Make wildlife crimes recordable
Alongside the Wildlife and Countryside Link and Wales Environment Link we are urging the Home Office to make all wildlife crimes recordable in England and Wales, with specific wildlife crime police recording codes; and to produce a comprehensive annual wildlife crime report - detailing trends, identifying priorities, and directing funding and resources accordingly.
There is a clear case for more effective recording of, and reporting on, wildlife crime in England and Wales. These actions are essential to help safeguard wildlife and nature and to enable more effective enforcement. Wildlife and Countryside Link, alongside World Animal Protection, is seeking meetings with Home Office ministers and officials to discuss the report’s findings.
More information on our wildlife crime work can be found by clicking here.