Wild Justice’s Raptor Forensics Fund opens with £10K to support police investigations

The campaign group Wild Justice has announced the launch of its Raptor Forensics Fund, with an initial budget of £10K available to support police investigations in to raptor persecution crimes.

This fund was first proposed in April 2020 after discussions with a number of Police wildlife crime officers who were frustrated that funding cuts and delayed decision-making was impacting on their efforts to submit evidence for forensic testing in suspected cases of bird of prey persecution.

Several months on the fund has just launched this week with funding provided by Wild Justice, Northern England Raptor Forum, Tayside & Fife Raptor Study Group and a number of individuals.

The Raptor Forensics Fund will be administered solely by the PAW Forensics Working Group and guarantees funding support to police officers and other statutory agencies (e.g. SSPCA) to cover the cost of x-rays and post-mortems in the early stages of investigations and then potentially more funding to cover the full cost of further forensic analysis once a crime has been confirmed.

It is hoped this funding will increase the opportunities for police officers and other statutory investigators to get the raptor-killing criminals in to court.

Let’s see how long it takes before the first funding request appears. Not long, would be my bet.

For further information about the Raptor Forensics Fund please click here.

For further information about Wild Justice’s activities you can subscribe to the free newsletter here.

26 thoughts on “Wild Justice’s Raptor Forensics Fund opens with £10K to support police investigations”

  1. A great idea but shameful that the funds are not available to the police via the taxes we (most of us) pay. What next? I pay the police to investigate a burglary at my house?

  2. Are the Police allowed to accept funding from a group with the intentions of such political intent?
    Would not such funding impede upon the ability of any prosecuting force, and to act in a fair and unbiased manner?
    Is there a published and open acceptance from any Police Force that they will accept such donations?

    1. Yes, No and Yes. Of course your lot may feel a tad undermined when they offer the local Chief Super a days shooting.

    2. Such touching concern, Perdix.

      I wouldn’t worry though, if the police are accepting funds from this lot (see link below) then accessing funds donated by those opposed to the illegal killing of birds of prey should be pretty straight forward, no?


      The administration of the Raptor Forensics Fund has been laid out quite clearly. Wild Justice and any other donor has absolutely no input in to individual funding decisions. That is down to the expertise of the members of the PAW Forensics Working Group, which incidentally includes serving police officers who don’t seem to have a problem with the fund’s existence.

        1. The NGO and ALL responsible people who shoot support the Police in their stance efforts to deal with wildlife crime.
          There is though, a world of difference between offering support and offering funding. It’s the Piper who decides upon the tune, we all know that and I would be beyond surprised if any branch of any Force ever accepted financial funding from any activist group.
          I shall tomorrow, make contact with the National Audit Office (NAO) and see exactly where they stand on this.

          1. Hi Perdix,

            You might want to try reading the linked information again – the NGO donated £500 to Wiltshire Police.

            The Wild Justice Raptor Forensics Fund is quite different. The funds have been transferred to the PAW Forensics Working Group and it is that group that will determine whether an application for funding is successful (beyond the guaranteed £200 for early investigative forensics such as x-ray & post mortem).

            Wild Justice (and any other donor) will have absolutely zero input in to the case-by-case decisions to support funding applications. Those decisions rest solely with the PAW Forensics Working Group.

            How on earth would that possibly ‘bias’ or ‘prejudice’ a police investigation?

            Gosh, it’s almost as though you don’t want the police to be equipped to undertake forensic investigations for alleged raptor persecution crimes. But you crack on, contact the NAO and please do feed back the response you get.

            1. It’s funny that Perdix appears to see himself as some kind of crusader on behalf of the poor, persecuted group of “country” folk, who just want to be left in peace to abuse wild animals and damage ecosystems to their hearts’ content. When in fact he’s just an insignificant troll with an inflated sense of his own importance, and a complete ignorance of the issues he spouts off about.

          2. Perdix,

            You seem to misunderstand this completely, or perhaps you are being willful in your misunderstanding?

            As has been explained, the funding is being provided by Wild Justice, its use is to fund work to gather evidence where an alleged wildlife crime has been committed. Wild Justice do not administer the fund nor have any influence on the outcome of an investigation. Your right no Police force would allow that, but it would be counterproductive in any case, as it would be open to legal challenge.

            There are plenty of examples of external funding initiatives for the Police, some actually involve the volunteers or in your words activists in gathering evidence, such as local speed watch groups who record speeding motorists and pass the details onto the Police, Neighbourhood crime initiatives whereby funding is provided to the Police to tackle drug crime and other anti social behaviour. There is no issue with external funding in these cases.

            In all cases the funding is ring fenced for a particular purpose, but it is the Police who investigate and the CPS who decide on a prosecution.

            The only issue as far as I can see is that the Police may with this funding be better able to investigate wildlife crime and obtain sufficient evidence to support a prosecution. Is that what concerns you?

            You seem to be finding a conspiracy where none exists. Unlike of course the willful disregard for tackling the many examples of wildlife crime which is demonstrated by the current government. Do you get annoyed that the shooting community is “tarred with the same brush” as the criminals because of this? Have you shown the same concern and tackled your MP and shooting organisation to demand that more be done to tackle the criminals? If not why not?

            Anyway as has been explained, I think you will have to be prepared to be beyond surprise in this case!

            Good luck with getting a meaningful response from the National Audit Office!

    3. Perdix,

      What is political about ensuring the existing law on wildlife persecution is applied properly and wildlife crime is investigated and the criminals prosecuted where there is sufficient evidence?

      How is funding to enable a Police Force to properly investigate alleged crimes political? There are no strings attached, other than it be used for the purpose of investigating wildlife crimes that are reported?

      Are you not in favour of the law of the land being applied properly and those that commit illegal acts being investigated by the Police and where there is sufficient evidence prosecuted?

      Surely no law abiding shooter or gamekeeper could object to that? After all it would mean there is a greater chance of the “few” rotten apples amongst those ranks being caught and therefore exonerate those that are law abiding!

    4. Wanting the law obeyed is ‘political’.
      Poor criminals, victims of politics.
      Just because police and politics start with the same 4 letters, no need to get confused perdix (think of your name).

    5. Perdix
      I think you can rest assured that the police will have carefully considered the source of any funding, and how it may impact upon their ability to conduct thorough, unbiased and transparent investigations.

      Every investigating officer will be very aware of the scrutiny an investigation will be subject to in any court proceedings.

      The police have a duty to conduct open, transparent and fair investigations, where the evidence dictates the direction that investigation subsequently takes.

      Submitting items for forensic analysis is expensive.

      A lot of this forensic work is carried out by organisations outside the police service, who then charge the police for the work carried out.

      Historically the police have often had to weigh up the cost of submitting an item for forensic analysis versus the benefit this may bring to an investigation. (The police only have limited budgets)

      These decisions have to be recorded by the investigating officer, and are frequently challenged in court if it is viewed that failing to send an item for forensic testing may have created unfair bias in the investigation.

      So hopefully this fund will allow the police to actually submit more items for forensic analysis, which in turn will provide better evidence to an investigation.

      The results of forensic testing can as much rule out a suspects involvement in a crime, as incriminate them.

      Of course the worry for criminals is that forensic evidence can often link them to a crime, and be very hard to offer a credible explanation for, other than to admit guilt!

      This in turn could lead to some anxiety in those quarters who turn a blind eye to the crimes being committed, as any successful prosecution may expose their association with these wildlife criminals.

  3. Maybe BASC, CLA, NGO, etc will chip in a few quid? Surely they would welcome any chance to help identify those one or two very busy “bad apples” that are undermining all of the progress they claim has been made to stop illegal persecution. At least then, once those real villains are collared, other keepers will have no need to worry about what DNA has inexplicably found its way onto their army surplus combat trousers.

  4. I seriously think that someone should try x-ray spectroscopy on samples of lead shot. Just imagine if you could match up the lead shot in cartridges in someone’s pocket with the pellets in a dead bird. X rays would be great for this because they are high energy, therefore you don’t need much sample. And I’ll bet the impurities in the lead shot vary quite a lot. An x-ray fingerprint. That’ll put the willies up the shooters.

    1. Gerard, ballistic Id is only of any value when tracing the origins of a projectile, and from that of a rifled barrel. Lead shot doesn’t travel down a barrel which is rifled.

      Lead shot, as all metals is made to certain grades and whilst a brand of shotgun cartridge could perhaps be identified, it would be rather like establishing that a Ford car was used, but without any way of deciding which particular car.

      1. Perdix, you might look up the word ‘Isotopes’. These may show a variation between mines. When I read about this, admittedly a long time ago, it would distinguish between North Pennine lead, perhaps mined in Victorian times. and more recently mined Australian lead. The difference being Carboniferous v Pre-Cambrian, respectively. ISTR this was relevant to pollution studies when I read it, perhaps twenty years ago.

        I’m sure the science has come on a long way since. It’s one reason that historic lead, eg recovered from wrecks, is valued for radiation-proofing scientific instruments. That’s lead from before nuclear weapons were used, and thus free from contaminants present in re-used scrap lead.

        Do, please, let us know how you get on.

      2. I have never run an x-ray spectrum on lead shot. But as an experienced chemist I know FOR SURE that nothing is actually pure. Say a sample of lead contains 97.376 % lead, 0.0054 % cadmium, 0,0021% silver, it can even have 0.0001 % gold, and a vast range of other impurities. ALL of these and the lead will give a characteristic fingerprint of x-rays if irradiated with gamma rays. All you need to do is compare batches of lead, because almost inevitably, every batch won’t be the same. If you want me to explain in further detail I can assure you that I am very patient.

  5. Having checked with the NAO I am advised that whilst individual Police Forces are permitted to accept donations and for charitable causes which they support, they are not – under any circumstances, permitted to accept Private Funding from any Groups and especially in an attempt to influence, impede or direct any investigations – – – – and when we consider that there are most certain lines of authoritative enquiry surrounding the offering of falsified or fraudulently is[[;ind evidence, it would seem that claims of providing funding are erroneous at best, and most assuredly disingenuous.
    As it would almost certainly be understood by the legal advisors to WJ that the fund raising claims are not as they appear to be, it raises the question as to whether the Charities Commission would show an interest in the fund raising claims – – assuming that is, that WJ are a charity – are they, does anyone know?

    1. Perdix, you are talking out of the wrong hole which is becoming your trademark. Go away, there’s a good chap.

    2. Perdix
      Perhaps you should carefully read the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime page on the UK governments own website.
      This clearly states:
      The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime UK (PAW UK) helps statutory and non-government organisations to work together to reduce wildlife crime.

      PAW’s objectives are to:
      raise awareness of wildlife legislation and the impacts of wildlife crime
      help and advise on wildlife crime and regulatory issues
      make sure wildlife crime is tackled effectively.

      Membership of the PAW comprises:

      Government departments: Defra; Home Office; Crown Prosecution service; Border Force
      Devolved Administrations: Scottish Government, Welsh Government, The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland
      Statutory bodies: Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Kew
      Regulatory bodies: Natural England; Environment Agency; Animal and Plant Health Agency
      Police: National Wildlife Crime Unit

      Then maybe you could follow the link on the government website to the PAW Forensics working group.

      The aim of this group is clearly stated on their header page-

      The PAW Forensics Working Group (FWG) was established in 1996. Its membership is made up of representatives from the forensic science community, government departments, the Police, UK Border Force and non-governmental organisations. The FWG aims to support the application of scientific technologies to countering wildlife crime in the UK.

      Wild Justice have made it very clear in their statement that any money raised will be given to FWG. FWG will then decide on how this money will be administered to assist in the forensic progress of wildlife crime investigations.
      It should be quite obvious from everything that has been said that Wild Justice are not involved in the decision making process which will decide which investigations will benefit from this funding source.

      I also think it is very clear that individual Police Forces will not be accepting charitable donations from Wild Justice in order influence, impede or direct any investigation as you appear to be trying to claim.

      Rather this appears to be very admirable solution to help bridge a funding gap in government spending to those agencies which the government recognize as having responsibility for investigating wildlife crime.

      So what exactly are you so opposed to??

      I also note in your comment an insinuation that evidence in wildlife crimes is falsified or tampered with.
      This is a topic which has been covered previously and as was pointed out at the time, constitutes the serious criminal offence of Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice.

      So, what are you actually trying to say?
      I really hope you aren’t trying to claim that Wild Justice have set up this fund in order to try and influence the forensic examination of corrupted evidence?

      Should this be the case. This would be a very serious allegation, for which I would expect you to offer some proper evidence to justify such an appalling accusation.

      (Ed- If I have got any of this wrong please feel free to edit if necessary- Thanks)

    3. Perdix,

      Do you actually read the responses explaining why your clearly barking up the wrong tree with your spurious objections? Or is it simply that you are unable to comprehend anything that does not coincide with your rather strange view point on life?

      Oh and you asked the wrong question of the NAO! Not sure why, because Wild Justice have published clearly what the fund is to be used for and how it will be administered. Nowhere can I find any reference to it being used to attempt to influence, impede or direct any investigations!

      Neither will any Police force be accepting private funding from any particular group, what they will ahve is access to a fund to enable them to undertake further forensic investigation where an alleged crime has been committed. Given that neither Wild Justice nor any other group or individual who donates to the fund will ahve any say in which case it is used for, seeing as its the individual Police Force who determine whether a crime has been committed, what exactly is your objection?

      So as it stands it seems you would not want there to be the necessary funds available that would enable individual Police Forces to be able to undertake more detailed investigations into alleged wildlife crimes?

      That seems very strange, I mean doesn’t every group or organisation supposedly representing shooting interests, loudly proclaim every time that there is an apparent wildlife crime, that they have zero tolerance to the illegal killing of wildlife? One would assume that you and they would welcome the fact that there is possibly an increased chance of one of these “few rotten apples” being prosecuted.

      Perhaps rather than trying to find obscure and frankly nonsensical reasons as to why you find this initiative objectionable, you could clearly explain why your so against funds being available which may help police forces across the country be more successful in catching these criminals?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s