Wild Justice launches new fund to support police investigations in to raptor persecution crimes

Wild Justice has launched a new fund to help support the police investigate wildlife crime.

Specifically, the fund is being made available to police forces across the UK to support forensic analyses in cases relating to the illegal persecution of birds of prey.

Enforced police budget cuts and lack of resources can sometimes preclude the swift analysis of evidence in these types of investigations and where speedy evidence gathering is essential, these delays can lessen the opportunities for a criminal prosecution to proceed.

Wild Justice has committed a £5K start-up contribution and is calling on other organisations to add to the fund. Police Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) will be encouraging partner organisations to contribute.

Watch this space.

For further details please read the Wild Justice blog here.


30 thoughts on “Wild Justice launches new fund to support police investigations in to raptor persecution crimes”

  1. Excellent idea.

    As the Wild Justice blog says: “this is the perfect opportunity for groups such as the Moorland Association, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Land & Estates, Countryside Alliance, the Game Fair, Shooting Times, etc to put their money where their mouths are.”

    So far they have been consistently full of hot air ………………………..

    1. Or they could allow the RSPB to install covert cameras to catch ‘One or two the rotten apple gamekeepers’ that are about.

  2. Great stuff and as Keith says I hope no opportunity is lost to throw down the gauntlet to the organisations who so far have made absolutely no contribution to stopping illegal persecution beyond very public and utterly useless statements. At a time when many of us have their hearts in their mouths about what’s happening to wildlife during the lockdown it’s a bit of a relief that there’s a ray of light at the end of the tunnel with this. Compare how way above its weight Wild Justice has been hitting from the very beginning with so many organisations hitting well below theirs. Well done Chris, Ruth and Mark!

  3. Off topic but i hope RPUK will allow me.
    Scottish Ornithological Club is offering the March edition free to download for everyone because of lock down.
    There is an article on the Werritty Report and articles on falcons released into the wild and nesting Honey-buzzards.

  4. I love this new approach. Superb lateral thinking. I hope there is a process to rapidly inject funds in the relative police budget.

  5. By Dave Slater, Natural England’s Director for wildlife licensing.

    Yesterday (15 April) we granted licences for three falconers to permit the taking of a small number (six in total) of peregrine falcon chicks from the wild for use in falconry. Each falconer intends to take one male and one female chick to form a breeding programme with the other licensees.

    We understand that some people may have questions and concerns over the taking of birds from the wild and so I wanted to outline more about our decision
    Is this classed as a raptor persecution crime !! Shameful.

  6. Great to hear of some funding that can be used to tackle raptor persecution. But is this way to do it. If NWCU agree to administer the fund then they will clearly be compromising their duty of impartiality. The police must ensure that they are seen to be impartial. Accepting funding from Raptor Persecution has already raised eyebrows amongst those on the front line investigating wildlife crime.
    It is noted that the PAW Forensic Working Group who administer the PAW forensic fund has made a very polite tweet suggesting that they would be keen to discuss this initiative. I am very surprised that this was not done before your funding was announced.
    Your call for others to make contributions is clearly designed to try and show others in a bad light. In present times many other organisations involved in this area are on the verge of collapse. RSPB have furloughed many staff as have other organisations. Is it really a good idea to call for donations at this time. If the idea was that funding could be sourced from a number of groups was it discussed beforehand? The PAW raptor priority group (pdg) would seem to be the best place to table such an idea.
    Superintendent Nick Lyall chair of the pdg, on the WJ website, has provided a quote supporting this initiative. If this funding was not discussed and agreed by the pdg it further undermines his credibility.

    [Ed: What a fascinating comment. You seem a bit rattled – more than you were when you set up a new twitter account just to troll the Wild Justice account about this fund.

    Just to clarify a few things – this isn’t funding for the NWCU, it’s to pay for forensic analyses that may form part of police investigations in to the illegal persecution of birds of prey in the UK. Quite how this ‘clearly compromises the NWCU’s duty of impartiality’ is, er, not at all clear. You’ll need to elaborate. The NWCU is actually the best-placed organisation to administer this fund, and precisely because of its impartiality.

    Nor is this ‘funding from Raptor Persecution’ – it’s a fund established by Wild Justice from public donations. Wild Justice is a not for profit company limited by guarantee, with audited accounts. This initiative meets the formally-stated objectives of Wild Justice (check the WJ website if you don’t understand what those objectives are).

    We’re not aware of ‘raised eyebrows from those among the front line investigating wildlife crime’. Care to name them?

    Wild Justice isn’t a member of the RPPDG nor of PAW so quite why you think this should have been discussed with both groups first is a mystery. Wild Justice doesn’t need the approval or permission of either group to do something positive to help tackle raptor persecution. WJ will happily have a conversation with the PAW Forensic Group about the potential for working together but as clearly stated, this fund is quite separate from the PAW Forensic Fund in that it is solely focused on raptor persecution investigations in the UK and it will fully fund the analyses, rather than match fund 50% of costs, assuming sufficient funds are available.

    The call for others to contribute to the fund is, er, just that. Other groups can make up their own minds whether they’re interested and in a position to contribute – and indeed one of them already has…more of that next week.

    Nick Lyall’s credibility remains fully intact. Why on earth wouldn’t he support the availability of a fund to help support police investigations in to raptor persecution?! Your choice of words, ‘….further undermines his credibility…’ reveals more about your identity than you’d probably like to be made public. I wonder why that is?]

    1. It’s interesting, because NFU and other organisations fund/lend/sponsor various Police forces with various pieces of equipment including quad bikes. Is this wrong too ExWCO? Surely that would also potentially compromise the Police’s impartiality?
      Maybe, it should be seen in the same light which is to best equip police forces with the tools to do their job under the budget constraints they have….

  7. Thanks for the opportunity to push back a little. Yes, your right, I did create a Twitter account in order to respond to the Wild Justice (WJ) blog. It would have been more appropriate for me to have made my comments directly to WJ but there was no facility, I could find, to make comment. I can assure you that I have good reason to remain anonymous, but that sems not to be a problem generally, many comments on the Raptor Persecution (RP) site are made in such fashion. But does making a contribution asking some reasonable questions amount to being a troll? I have not and do not intend to use bad language, or insults. Yes some criticism is expressed but well within the boundaries set out by posts and comments on this site. Lastly I do not intend to make numerous comments on the same subject, unless, as is the case here, invited to do so.
    Before progressing to the main issues I will just make reference to your invitation to name my sources. You know this is not going to happen. Information provided in confidence is always going to be unreferenced. In the WJ blog reference is made to police officers who are frustrated at the attitude they encounter from senior officers. I suppose I could say that if you reveal your sources I will reveal mine. But actually, if you did reveal your sources, I would still not do so. But not naming names does not mean that something is untrue.
    The very first sentence of my original blog is clear in welcoming funds that can be used to combat raptor persecution. My concerns about police involvement arise not, from the process of administering the fund, but from the source of them. The police in very recent years have started to accept that they have failed to consider and address the needs of rural communities. Some forces have introduced policing teams tasked with working with and forming partnerships with their rural communities. To be effective then members of those communities need to be able to trust the police. They need to know that criminality where evidenced will be effectively addressed but equally they need to know that the police will, equally robustly, protect their right to undertake lawful activity.
    There is a commonly held view amongst the shooting community that WJ are an anti-shooting organisation. It is also clear that game keepers and game shooters, as a group, are stereotyped as criminals engaged in wildlife crime. RP do not intervene when comments to such effect are posted. This leads to a deepening of the anti-shooting perception. There is a principle of policing that warns against stereotyping. Think about ethnicity, religion, sexual preferences, lifestyle etc. As such the police must be seen not to be stereotyping any group of people thereby displaying prejudice. It is for this reason that I think the police need to think again about administering a fund that is based on contributions from organisations who, even inadvertently, are prejudiced.
    I do accept that neither WJ nor RP are members of the raptor priority delivery group. But you have strong lines of communication with key members of the group, the Chair, the Police, RSPB and NERF come to mind. It would have been simple for you to approach a trusted member of that group to pitch the idea of your fund and to have it discussed by members. If that had been done then you would have been able to demonstrate, even if none of the shooting groups were prepared to make a contribution, that a partnership approach had been tested. This would have done much to address what should be police concerns.
    What I do not understand is the quote from Nick Lyall supporting this initiative. If I was a senior police officer chairing a group tasked with addressing raptor persecution through partnership working I would certainly have wanted to consult members of the group prior to providing a supportive quote. My response to WJ would have been something like “What a great idea, lets discuss it at the next meeting of the group and I will then get back to you”.
    It is of course up to Nick rather than WJ or RP to explain why he has chosen to be quoted on this matter. Of course, in the present time, Nick is extremely busy, his workload must be unbelievable. But I note that he has been active on Twitter over the past 24 hours. Perhaps surprisingly he has made no mention of this initiative or his support for it. Likewise nothing from the NWCU on the subject. Are there second thoughts? A question to be asked directly of them, at some point, in one form or another.
    As I say, thanks for the invitation to respond.

    1. Sorry but I’m struggling with your logic here.

      You say you welcome a fund to help combat the illegal persecution of birds of prey in the UK but then say it’s inappropriate for it to be administered by an impartial police unit because the fund has been established by a group that cares about combating the illegal persecution of raptors in the UK. Yep, that makes complete sense.

      For the record, again, WJ isn’t an anti-shooting organisation. This position is repeatedly and deliberately misrepresented by the shooting industry, for its own ends. But even if it was (which it isn’t), why would that matter if the fund is being administered by an impartial police unit? WJ will have no influence over which cases are funded and which aren’t – that’s kind of the point of handing it over to be administered by an impartial police unit that specialises in tackling wildlife crime. Would you prefer WJ to administer it? Be careful what you wish for.

      You also make a lot of assumptions about who WJ might have spoken to prior to launching this fund. You have no idea who WJ has spoken with but there’ll be news on this next week.

      And again, I’ll repeat this because you appear to have ignored it the first time around – WJ is not a member of the RPPDG and has absolutely no intention of applying to join at this time. WJ values independence and the freedom that provides to get on with meeting its stated objectives without having to deal with malicious interventions by those who might (would) seek to disrupt those nature conservation objectives. WJ was under no obligation whatsoever to put this proposal to the RPPDG for consideration prior to launch.

      Your slightly sinister comments about Nick Lyall and the NWCU are symbolic of the nasty smear campaigns aimed at both Nick and Lou (NWCU Head) that continue behind the scenes at great personal and professional cost to both individuals. Why is that, do you think? And who might be behind those campaigns? As previously stated, the integrity of both of them speaks volumes under the circumstances.

      Now, let’s get back to the fund and getting that money to those police officers whose motivation is to bring to justice those criminals who continue to target birds of prey, and yes, that includes those members of the game shooting industry who see themselves as untouchable.

    2. ‘RP do not intervene when comments to such effect are posted.’
      Not that keen on the principal of free speech then?

      I am sure you must understand the points you are making but i, for the life of me, haven’t a clue what you are on about. All i hear is ‘im sure there must be something wrong with this somewhere because …..well i don’t like it’.

  8. I promised not to make numerous responses and do not intend to do so. However can I just be clear in saying that nothing I have said should be construed as being even slightly sinister. Nick Lyall is a police officer and the NWCU a police unit. My reference to future questions being asked was intended to be read simply as an intention to consider challenging & holding them, as public servants to account. Lots of way’s that that can be done if needed, direct contact, FOI’s, formal complaints. Nothing sinister.

    1. You’ll excuse me while I guffaw at your response.

      Yes, both Nick Lyall and Lou Hubble, as public servants, should both be held accountable for their professional decisions and I’m certain that both would not be found lacking. They ooze integrity, in sharp contrast to some of their predecessors.

      However, as you’ll no doubt be aware, both of them have been victims of malicious hate campaigns, orchestrated by the game shooting industry, simply because of these officers’ determination to make progress on tackling illegal raptor persecution.

      Earlier this year Lou Hubble was at the centre of a particularly nasty hate campaign, leading to her being the subject of a formal investigation and her name being dragged through the tabloids. As it turned out, the basis of that complaint was a clear misrepresentation of the facts, for which the Daily Mail was forced to apologise.

      Nick Lyall has also suffered similar public humiliation when his integrity was questioned in the press by certain members of the RPPDG when Nick tried to balance the representation of organisations in that group.

      It is quite clear to me and many others that these are attempts to intimidate these officers and ‘persuade’ them not to engage with the raptor persecution issue if they value their careers, so you coming on here suggesting formal complaints against them is indeed sinister in this context.

      By the way, if you’re who I think you are (and I won’t reveal that here), it’s quite laughable that you are questioning the integrity and alleged partiality of two serving police officers. But you carry on because you’re providing everyone with a fantastic insight into why decent officers like Nick and Lou have such a difficult task on their hands when it comes to tackling the illegal killing of birds of prey.

  9. To quote EXWCO: “They need to know that criminality where evidenced will be effectively addressed but equally they need to know that the police will, equally robustly, protect their right to undertake lawful activity”.And so speaks a shooting lobbyist. This fund is specifically aimed at helping investigation into birds pf prey and illegal activity. There is no mention whatsoever of funding investigation into lawful activity. As so often shooting lobbyists (and by the way let’s get this straight, I’m a member of a ‘rural community’ and am utterly fed up of being lumped in with shooters, hunters, trappers, and wildlife criminals) are manufacturing an argument where none exists. It’s an admission of course that shooting is under pressure and scrutiny like never before – but if shooting decided to flush out the law breakers in its own midst instead of whining about their ‘legal rights’ a lot of that pressure and scrutiny would lift. But, no, far easier to go running to the comments section and try to make out like their some sort of threatened indigenous culture than be open, honest, and fix a problem that’s been a running sore for decades.

  10. If people with guns stopped shooting, poisoning and trapping legally protected birds of prey then we would not need positive initiatives such as this one. I will happily support this initiative financially.

    If you don’t shoot, trap or poison birds of prey what is there to object to?

    I am looking forward to seeing what financial support the Moorland Assoc, BASC etc etc make. Lots of us are watching.

    Keep up the good work

  11. Well said Charlie. Can all animal rights groups and all sane people unite to give this the big financial clout needed to stamp out this dark satanic practice

  12. Excellent reply Charlie.
    ‘Legal Rights’ also confers ‘Legal Responsibilites’.
    The upkeep of the moors you shoot over, the environment thereof, in respect to the other wildlife thereon, the care for the peat bogs which act as water catchment, helping to prevent flooding in the towns and valleys below.
    The avoidance of poisoning, which reverberates to the top of the food chain (I’m not talking humans).
    The banning of Lead shot, which also adds to the toxicity of the environment, The medicated grit, not to mention the Stink Pits, which draw in predators, none of this is normal, and the destruction of the Mountain Hare (our only Native Hare) is beyond the pale.
    The release each year of non native species (in particular Pheasant, a Roman Import) in vast numbers, adds to the destruction of the small invertebrates on which the native animals feed. These unbalanced practices need to cease, and the owners and leaseholders need to be brought to book. Gamekeepers should be brought into line, with the loss of their living, if necessary, if they try to get around the Law.
    Other countries police these things more rigidly than Britain, Its time we followed suit!

    1. Whilst I agree entirely with what you Jill there is one point of shall we say contention. Yes the Romans brought the Pheasant here but there is every likelihood that the birds they brought were never given liberty, they were kept and reared on pens for the pot. It has not been a “wild” denizen of our countryside until the last few hundred years. Certainly not common until the advent of the shotgun and breech loading at that.

      1. Precisely my point, Paul, although I may have worded it clumsily. They shouldn’t be here. Too many species have been eradicated from Britain by hunting, Wolf, Bear, Lynx are all Native species wiped out by humans. At least the Beaver has been reintroduced.
        While we are on introductions, The Rabbit. The Normans brought those and kept them in warrens (hence the name Warren, or Warrener (French Warrenne). naturally they escaped, and did what rabbits do best, becoming a pest species. If the shooters want to slaughter something try the fluffy little buns, and leave the Mountain Hare alone. Gardeners would thank them.

  13. I am not sure of the outcomes that EXWCO wanted to achieve! But in response to his diatribe I have donated money to WJ. I just hope that he has encouraged others to do the same..

  14. I have just read these comments by the so-called EXWCO. They are clearly designed to smear and intimidate law-abiding people from donating to a fund to support the implementation of current legislation, because this – apparently – would not be ‘impartial’.

    Corruption requires anonymity, does it not?

  15. I think it is a great idea and I am all for things to protect birds of prey and hope it’s a great success for the future for birds of prey. And would be interested in being sent email on how it going

  16. I am also a x falconer and love birds of prey and wish I could get back into it or be any help towards helping birds of prey in any way

  17. My MPs reply to my enquiry about the National Crimes Unit might give some strength to the feeling that Wild Justice is quite correct in its view that we need to take action to support our wildlife. Peter Aldous continually hides behind the term ‘government and does not appear to have any views of his own. Being a hunting and shooting constituency he clearly doesn’t want to offend the great and the good.

    For everyone’s information, here’s his reply:

    ‘I understand your strong feelings on this issue and wish to thank you for your clear commitment to the welfare of wildlife across our country.

    Both the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Home Office fund the National Wildlife Crime Unit and support its work in investigating crime. I am aware that the Home Office will be providing specific funding of £136,000 to support the work of the Unit in 2020/21. Under a four-year funding agreement with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Defra has contributed £165,000 a year between 2016 and 2020 to the Unit’s activities. I am pleased that the Department has committed to maintaining the Defra contribution in 2020/21. This will be in addition to the funding central Government will be providing police forces in England and Wales to tackle all types of crime, including wildlife crime.

    As I understand it, funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit beyond March 2021 will be looked at as part of the forthcoming Spending Review.

    I would like to reassure you that the Government takes wildlife crime in the UK, as well as abroad, very seriously. I am pleased that up to £6.3 million per year is provided to support international action to counter poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

    Whilst this is a motion I am supportive of, I will not be signing EDM’s in this Parliament.’

    The paltry sums of money that the government allocates to investigating wildlife crime is seen as a serious commitment as far as Mr Aldous is concerned. No wonder Wild Justice has taken the action it has. There is no indication, from my point of view, that this government takes wildlife crime seriously at all.

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