Chief Inspector Louise Hubble is leaving her role as Chair of the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) in November.
In a letter to colleagues last month, Lou wrote, ‘I am writing to notify you that my two year secondment to the NWCU, which was extended by twelve months last year, concludes in November 2020. Following discussions with Hampshire’s Chief Officer Group it has been decided that I will return to Hampshire in November 2020. I do not know at this time which role I will be going in to but after 21 years as a Wildlife Crime Officer I hope to still be involved in the world of wildlife at some level. I will certainly continue to enjoy my passion for wildlife in my spare time regardless of my policing role‘.
[Lou filming with Chris Packham in the raptor persecution hotspot of Strathbraan, Perthshire. Photo by Ruth Tingay]
It’s not clear whether she jumped or was pushed, but I reckon most of us will have our own view on that. If you work in wildlife crime enforcement in the UK and you’re seen to be doing a decent job, you can expect to be targeted by those who would rather you kept your mouth shut and who have the influence and connections to try and make sure you do.
Lou’s departure is really disappointing news, not just for her personally – she is as passionate and focused about her role as anyone you’re likely to meet – but for those of us with long memories about some of the former heads of the NWCU, Lou’s departure signals not just a huge loss for wildlife crime enforcement, but also a weariness that her replacement, whoever that may be, will be starting from scratch, all over again.
There’s still a big question mark over the usefulness and effectiveness of the NWCU as a whole – undoubtedly the unit excels in some areas but is less effective in others and there are still some ‘personalities’ in there that make partnership-working a challenge, to say the least. But Lou wasn’t one of those. She was/is highly respected by those of us in the conservation community for her hard work and high standards.
If you’re reading this, Lou, thanks for your efforts.