Podcast: Interview with Police Scotland’s National Wildlife Crime Coordinator

Police Scotland has come a long way in recent years on how it tackles wildlife crime, and especially the seven national wildlife crime priorities, which of course includes raptor persecution.

The seven current national priorities are:

Badger persecution

Bat persecution

Raptor persecution

Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)

Freshwater pearl mussels

Poaching (deer & fish) and hare coursing

Cyber-enabled wildlife crime

There are still some problems in some aspects of wildlife crime policing but there have been huge improvements in many areas since the publication of two damning Natural Justice reports in 2015 by Scottish Environment LINK (see here and here) and there are now some very determined and proactive officers in post.

One of those is Detective Sergeant William (Billy) Telford, Police Scotland’s National Wildlife Crime Coordinator. He was recently interviewed by Lisa Marley (who produced the award-winning documentary about the mass poisoning of 22 red kites & buzzards on the Black Isle in 2014) discussing Police Scotland’s Operation Wingspan, a year-long campaign to raise awareness about wildlife crime.

The hour-long podcast is hosted by Lisa as part of her series ‘Crimes Against Nature’ and you can listen to it here.

The conversation covers the national wildlife crime priorities and specifically on raptor persecution it includes a discussion about the on-going challenges faced by the police in securing sufficient evidence for a prosecution, alternative enforcement measures when a prosecution isn’t possible (e.g. working with NatureScot to impose General Licence restrictions), and new enforcement opportunities made available with the new increased penalties for certain offences (e.g. covert surveillance on private estates now being an option as some raptor persecution offences are now considered ‘serious’, as reflected by the new sentencing tariffs, thus allowing police officers to seek permission for covert surveillance where previously it was ruled inadmissible).

This podcast is well worth a listen.

2 thoughts on “Podcast: Interview with Police Scotland’s National Wildlife Crime Coordinator”

  1. “e.g. covert surveillance on private estates now being an option as some raptor persecution offences are now considered ‘serious’, as reflected by the new sentencing tariffs, thus allowing police officers to seek permission for covert surveillance where previously it was ruled inadmissible”

    This is the direct, and very encouraging, development of increasing the maximum penalty for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife crimes to five years imprisonment together with unlimited fines.

  2. An interesting podcast, which helps highlight the fact that Police Scotland appear to have been able to introduce “national standards” in how they tackle wildlife crime across all the Divisions which make up Police Scotland.
    This hopefully means that regardless of where in Scotland a wildlife crime occurs, the same investigative standards are applied.
    Sadly, this appears to be something lacking across England and Wales, where the different police services all seem to have different standards when it comes to investigating wildlife crimes.
    This is something which needs addressing urgently.
    Whilst the NWCU can set priorities and offer guidance to the police services of England and Wales, they can not compel chief constables to treat wildlife issues in a certain way.
    The National Police Chiefs Council also set a strategy for the policing of wildlife crimes. The current strategy recognised the “need for a coordinated approach nationally with clear governance arrangements to develop,
    consult, approve, and manage initiatives and overall service delivery.” (source- NPCC – wildlife crime policing strategy 201802021) -but this is not a legally binding.
    As such, there still appears to be a very diverse response across the various police services in England and Wales as to how wildlife crime is tackled, and the standard of police investigations. This just plays into the hands of the wildlife criminal, who so frequently evade justice.
    Wildlife is often labelled a “national treasure”.
    Shouldn’t there be a legally binding set of national standards as to how wildlife crime is tackled, with the Police and Crime Commissioners holding chief constables to account to ensure that national standards are met??
    Is this why SEPRONA , the dedicated police force for the protection of nature, appear so successful in Spain? (as reported in the blog regarding the farmer successfully prosecuted for poisoning vultures)
    It would be interesting to hear the views of those who work in conservation and the various police partner agencies on this matter, and whether there should be nationally adopted standards for the investigation of wildlife crimes.

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