Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidates standing for election in England on 6th May have been asked to declare their commitment to prioritising wildlife crime.
Wildlife and Countryside LINK (often referred to as just LINK) is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 58 organisations for the protection of nature (there are also LINK groups in Wales and Scotland). The Wildlife Crime Working Group is one of LINK’s sub-groups and it has today written to all of the PCC candidates inviting them to state whether they will commit to prioritising wildlife crime.
[Rural & wildlife crime policing in Staffordshire. Photo from Staffordshire Police]
The latest figures collected by LINK suggest that at least 3,800 wildlife crimes were reported to police forces in 2019. This is just a snapshot of the number of animals being illegally hurt and killed every single day, sometimes for ’fun’, sometimes for profit, sometimes in sheer callousness. However, just ten people were convicted of wildlife crimes in the same year. That’s a shockingly low return.
LINK’s Wildlife Crime Working Group believes that many police forces are constrained by too few resources, limited training opportunities and ineffective reporting systems.
The group believes that Police and Crime Commissioners have a crucial role to play by increasing support for wildlife crime policing within the police plans and budgets they control, giving their officers increased access to wildlife crime training and by adding their influential voices to calls to national policing action.
LINK has asked all PCC candidates to commit to the following:
If elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, I commit to:
• Make tackling wildlife crime a key priority within my first police and crime plan, and to make budget provision to support this prioritisation;
• Increase wildlife crime training opportunities for officers in my force and liaise with the National Wildlife Crime Unit on best wildlife policing practice;
• Encourage the Home Secretary to make wildlife crimes notifiable, so that data on these crimes can be collected and used to inform policing.
Prior to the elections on 6th May and to help voters decide who to support, LINK will be reporting on which PCC candidates have made the commitment to prioritise wildlife crime.