Police Supt Nick Lyall to create ‘hostile environment’ for raptor killers in England & Wales

Hats off to Police Superintendent Nick Lyall, the current Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) in England and Wales.

This guy took up post in September and promised accountability, transparency, and most importantly, delivery of the group’s objectives, which centre on a partnership approach to tackling illegal raptor persecution. No easy task given that the RPPDG, which was formed in 2011, has so far delivered absolutely nothing of any use because its membership has been top heavy with those only interested in protecting the image of the grouse shooting industry and because the so-called ‘partnership’ has suffered from a chronic lack of leadership by its former Chairs.

Now, thanks to Nick’s leadership, things look set to change. We blogged last month about some of his preparatory work (here) and today he’s published a blog about some of his plans for 2019, which he’s calling ‘The Year of the Raptor’.

[Supt Nick Lyall visiting RPPDG partners in the Yorkshire Dales in November: L-R David Butterworth (CEO Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority), Nick Lyall, Ian Court (Wildlife Officer at YDNPA) and Sgt Stuart Grainger of North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force]

This is Nick’s 4th blog since September – full marks to him in the transparency stakes; we’ve never seen this level of communication from previous Chairs and it is a very welcome change.

In his latest blog (here), Nick outlines some of his immediate plans for the RPPDG and the one which caught our eye was this:

The creation of an Enforcement Group that will focus on partnership working and the `Achilles Heel` approach to tackling head-on those people that are known or strongly suspected to be involved in persecution offences. Creation of a hostile environment for those committing persecution offences‘.

The specifics of this proposed Enforcement Group and its operational capabilities aren’t detailed as yet, which is understandable, but we hope that it will be restricted to law enforcement bodies only and will specifically exclude all those shooting industry organisations whose main aim seems to be to protect the raptor killers from any enforcement measure. Presumably the group will have access to highly sensitive police intelligence logs including the names of shooting estates and associated individuals who are suspected of committing wildlife crime and presumably the group will also have the authority to act on those intelligence logs and go after the suspects. Let’s face it, these estates (and many of the individuals) are already well known because raptor crime is reported there time and time and time again but enforcement action, with a few notable exceptions, has been appalling.

Directly linked to this lack of enforcement in some cases has been a lack of available resources as police budgets are slashed, and a lack of trained police officers and control room operators in some regions but by no means across the board. Nick discusses his plans to tackle both these issues, in addition to launching a national publicity campaign based on North Yorkshire Police’s exemplary Operation Owl campaign.

Of course, there’s also the obligatory ‘let’s talk with the shooting industry’ approach, which has proven utterly futile in the past with organisations actively opposing cooperation with police-led initiatives to tackle illegal raptor persecution (e.g. see here and here) but Nick will just have to learn the hard way. At least they won’t be able to accuse him of not trying.

All in all though, Nick’s proposals look thoughtful and well-considered and there’s every reason to be (cautiously) optimistic about the future role of the RPPDG.

24 thoughts on “Police Supt Nick Lyall to create ‘hostile environment’ for raptor killers in England & Wales”

  1. Just what we need. Someone who knows what the problems are and who is determined to tackle them and the miscreants head-on. I wish him all the best.

  2. Great effort by Nick! You have to wonder if there hasn’t been a political shift that’s made Nick’s appointment and Operation Owl possible after decades where too many police forces did too little and there was a bit too much ‘closeness’ between senior police officers and the Tweed set. This year, finally, the claims that DGS is vital for rural jobs have been publicly and repeatedly called into question – not just by the Revive Coalition, but by Labour MP Sue Hayman in England and the campaign to stop grouse shooting on Yorkshire Water properties. I managed to get a conservative councillor in one of the areas that encompasses grouse moors to sign the petition for an independent economic study of DGS, he was actually enthusiastic and the petition map registered a new signature in the constituency so no doubt he’s genuine. If conservative politicians start coming out against DGS the same way some are now openly against fox hunting then that will be a very interesting development.

    1. That should be a prerequisite – if there is enough circumstantial evidence to suspect an estate of committing wildlife crime, all persons involved should have their licences revoked WHILST the matter is investigated fully. If the matter is not taken further they get them back but, providing the law enforcement agencies can prove that they behaved reasonably, there will be no redress! That might exercise a few minds!

  3. Here’s to #2019YearoftheRaptor & to Supt Nick Lyall delivering it – it’ll be a refreshing and definitely welcome change from the years of rhetoric. Bring it on:)

  4. I believe it when the first duke or lord ends up doing, pardon the pun, bird for it.

    Otherwise it is the same tune, just played on new instruments (I’d have said “tools”, but I’m endeavouring to be polite.

    1. crypticmirror,

      But it isn’t the same tune, is it? How many of the previous RPPDG Chairs have you seen engaging with the public like this? Offering this level of transparency? Displaying this level of determination and drive, against enormous odds?

      Think about how long we’ve been criticising police inaction on this issue, and then along comes someone who not only actively listens but also actively engages.

      He deserves our support, not derision.

      1. He deserves support when he first perp-walks the first glad handing lord or crooked judge up the steps, and not an iota before. Until then it is the same tune of claiming to be tough and that the baddies better watch out, and I’ve heard it to often. This is still police inactivity, and it will remain inactivity until he bangs someone up. And not some scapegoat who is hung out to dry, or some minor flunky who will have their fine paid for them, someone who matters. Until then the police can go whistle.

        1. crypticmirror has no room to talk about anyone continually playing the same tune. He is guilty of this himself by forever banging on about police failures etc. I hope that his posts in 2019 will show a bit more wisdom and positive attitude in this respect, particularly in the light of Nick Lyall’s praiseworthy initiative. Otherwise I would hope that editorial discretion would be exercised to save us from anymore of his predictable drivel.

    2. crypticmorror: Couldn’t agree more….nothing will change until people start seeing (and treating) dukes and earls and the like as exactly the same as the rest of us in terms of the law…not as being a bit special, not being intimidated by them…even though those people might think they are our betters. Needs to be shown clearly that their wealth, influence and threats are meaningless under the law.

  5. It is so refreshing to read Nick’s blog, for how long have all the cards been stacked up on the wrong side of the table? Well it’s now time for the table to turn.

    Wishing Nick all the best and await hearing what future plans and targets he intends putting in place.

    Happy New Year everyone 2019 and a new hashtag #YearoftheRaptor

  6. Delighted the law is going to be enforced, simply by ensuring people keep the law! It’s not a lot to ask, really?

  7. One of the keys to this encouraging scenario is what happens at the first full meeting on 16th January are the “usual suspects” going to get the “bums rush” I really do hope so! The immovable object that has been the power privilege and simple evidence gathering difficulty have so far conspired jointly to make any progress difficult, if the apologists are gone then progress will indeed be possible.

  8. Sounds Promising,I wish Him well and he gets the backing, that will be Crucial ! Here’s hoping that 2019 is indeed the YEAR of THE RAPTOR .

  9. Once I see the criminals cuffed, charged, tried, convicted and harshly sentenced I will offer praise. Until then it is all just more words.

    1. Doug,

      We all want to see that happen but most of these specifics are beyond the scope of Nick Lyall’s authority. It’s the CPS who decides whether to charge a suspect, it’s a magistrate who decides guilt or innocence based on the available evidence, and it’s the legislation that determines the level of sentence on conviction. Laying responsibility at Nick’s door for the entire criminal justice system is ludicrous.

      What Nick is trying to do is ensure procedures are in place for completion of the first stage (arrest of the suspect) and from his activities so far (note activities, not “just more words”) he’s demonstrated an understanding of the issues within his remit and is setting out an ACTION plan to tackle those issues.

      One of the biggest barriers to tackling illegal raptor persecution in this country is wilful blindness. We’ve complained about it for years and continue to complain about it where it is still all too evident (i.e. Westminster, statutory conservation agencies etc etc etc). Nick Lyall cannot be accused of wilful blindness and the very least he deserves is widespread support, and our thanks, for his willingness to take this on.

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