Police attend suspected peregrine shooting near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Yesterday, Thames Valley Police (Aylesbury Vale) posted this on Facebook:

I haven’t been able to find any follow-up information, e.g. whether the peregrine was x-rayed to confirm/rule out shooting and there isn’t an incident number or an appeal for information on the Thames Valley Police website.

Meanwhile, the local press are reporting this as a confirmed shooting. Eg. see this headline from the Bucks Free Press:

Wouldn’t it be good if there was a national standard on how to report suspected raptor persecution crimes, that every police force could follow? And a central location where these verified reports could be found?

19 thoughts on “Police attend suspected peregrine shooting near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire”

  1. We definitely need to fix this problem, and fast, too many birds are being killed, especially the birds of prey which are supposed to be protected, but it seems the punishment is never strong enough to deter this crime.

  2. The first thing to do is a proper post-mortem examination on the animal, see if the wound is consistent with a gunshot and if so, what sort. The wounding on the photos is dorsal surface, lower back which doesn’t immediately look like an entry wound to me, in all the scenarios I can think of for a shooting.

    Post mortem the bird, and if possible skin it so the feathers aren’t hiding any damage to the tissues beneath, then we can more properly assess what happened to it.

    1. Hi Dan, as you say it obviously does require a proper post-mortem. But until then, there’s no need to deploy your unconvincing knowledge about gunshot wounds to try and muddy the waters / give wriggle room. Unlike you I would cautiously bet that it has more than likely bit the dust at the hand of man in some way or other, but lets just wait for more info.

    2. “The wounding on the photos is dorsal surface, lower back which doesn’t immediately look like an entry wound to me”

      What a ridiculous statement.

  3. Clearly the penalties are not harsh enough. It should be a prison sentence with lifetime firearms ban for committing crime with a firearm

      1. You are right wildlife criminals definitely don’t get a strong enough punishment, however, in the cat killing case he was charged with criminal damage because cats are classed as property. Criminal damage has up to a 10-year sentence depending on the cost of the damage. It was over 16 cats with pets bills of over £5000 that’s why he received a 5 yr sentence. Plus 3 months for carrying a knife without reasonable cause.

        1. [Ed: Hi Spaghnum, sorry, I can’t publish that without seeing supportive evidence. It’s the first I’ve heard of such allegations]

          1. Hi Ed, sorry I thought it was quoted on this blog. I definetly read it somewhere it was maybe directly in a local / regional newspaper. I will ferret it out when I get time and forward it to you. Thanks.

        2. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was passed by the UK Parliament and received Royal Assent on 29th April 2021, and came into force on 29th June 2021.

          This extended the maximum prison sentence to five years (it was previously six months). As well as a prison sentence, offenders can receive an unlimited fine.

          In this instance, the Welsh Government has agreed to the UK Parliament legislating for England and Wales. Animal welfare is a devolved matter.

          This (finally) brings England and Wales into line with Northern Ireland and Scotland (having been opposed by ‘green crap’ Cameron at Westminster)

          This law covers animals under the control of man, only. So that includes all ‘game birds’ when they are legally regarded as livestock during their weird status cycle.

      2. Correct. One of the reasons given for such a lengthy sentence, was because it was deemed that a cat, as a pet, is a member of the family. I wonder if the courts will take that into consideration when sentencing those involved with hunts that kill family pets?

  4. B james wrote :-

    “We definitely need to fix this problem, and fast, too many birds are being killed, especially the birds of prey which are supposed to be protected, but it seems the punishment is never strong enough to deter this crime”.

    Richard Ortyl wrote :-

    “Clearly the penalties are not harsh enough.”

    No matter what level at which the penalties are set it will make zero difference when the rate of detection and conviction remain abysmally low.
    The criminal low lifes do not give a flying forex about penalties when they are exceedingly unlikely to be caught.

    1. “No matter what level at which the penalties are set it will make zero difference when the rate of detection and conviction remain abysmally low.”

      This is untrue. The level of the penalties decide the level of resources employed in detecting and convicting offenders.

      1. “The level of the penalties decide the level of resources employed in detecting and convicting offenders.”

        Where is that stated ?

        Unless it can be verified that an increase in penalties results in a corresponding increase in the resources allocated to detection and conviction then it either cannot be deemed to happen or, if it does happen, it fails to produce a worthwhile result.

        Bottom line is that the detection, conviction and punishment process (absurdly called the Criminal Justice System) remain chronically ineffective.

  5. When you see some of the brazen criminality expoused on the social media pages of pigeon clubs its no wonder Peregrines are being killed up and down the country

  6. As usual, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE is the key. Until local people, who know who the perpetrators of this kind of crime are, become brave enough / incensed enough to stand up and tell it as it is, these CRIMES will continue to go undetected / unprosecuted / unpunished.
    Good, honest, fair-minded, law-abiding citizens can be found in every community … even (pains me to say it) amongst the farming, shooting & racing pigeon fraternities! They are the only people standing in the way of stopping BOP persecution. For all our sakes, PLEASE support the NGO Investigations Teams & the Police and get a grip. Sort the buggers within your ‘sport’ out… or risk losing it all!

  7. Hopefully the NWCU will have picked up on the inconsistencies in the reporting of suspected raptor crimes by the different police forces within the UK, and then hopefully, if they haven’t already done so, they will set out a national standard for how these suspected crimes should be dealt with, and give out guidance for all UK police forces to follow?
    The current lack of consistency doesn’t instil confidence that some police forces are investigating raptor crimes effectively. (this has been said time and time again in previous blogs on this topic!)

    There already exists a National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) for crimes in the UK.
    Wildlife crimes are a classified crime within the Home offence counting rules.

    I wonder if the issues regarding consistency have arisen due to different policies being adopted by the various police forces as to how they record and respond to a wildlife incident, and whether an incidents classification as a crime is based upon that police forces concept of a “victim”?

    The NCRS in its general principles states:-
    ” The Standard directs a victim focused approach to crime recording. The intention is that victims are believed and benefit from statutory entitlements under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (CPVC). This seeks to ensure that those reporting crimes will be treated with empathy and their allegations will be taken seriously. Any investigation which follows is then taken forward with an open mind to establish the truth. ”

    The rules clearly state that the police must have an auditable record of any incident reported to them.

    The Home Office rules then set out when an incident must be recorded as a crime.
    Para 2.2 of these rules states:
    “An incident will be recorded as a crime (notifiable offence) for ‘victim related offences’ if, on the balance of probability:
    (a) the circumstances of the victims report amount to a crime defined by law (the police will determine this, based on their knowledge of the law and counting rules);
    and
    (b) there is no credible evidence to the contrary immediately available.”

    My suspicion is that the animals (which are the victims of wildlife crimes) are not seen as “victims” within the sense of these rules, which then results in some police forces being reluctant to record these wildlife incidents as crimes until there is overwhelming evidence that a crime has been committed, rather than recording the incident as a crime based on the balance of probability. (ie after an autopsy has been conducted, natural causes have been eliminated, and the cause of death has been indisputably defined as crime, such as when the injuries are due to shooting or the use poisons.)

    I should also imagine there will be some reluctance by some police forces to want to count wildlife crimes within their crime figures until there is compelling evidence that a crime has actually been committed. (as an animal can not tell us that it is the victim of a crime- this can only be deduced from other available evidence- and if that evidence is not compelling, could this lead to some wildlife crimes not being recorded as crimes at all?)
    We must remember that each police force publishes it’s annual crime figures, and is judged on its strategies to combat crime- so anything that potentially raises the number of recorded crimes may not be seen as positive.

    Could a reluctance to treat suspicious wildlife incidents as crimes from the outset influence how a police force then goes onto to investigate that incident?
    This could then have consequences for the investigation strategy, and whether the perpetrators are brought to justice. ( I think all this has been said before)

    I suspect most reported wildlife incidents are not from the outset dealt with by police wildlife officers, and at what stage those wildlife crime officers become involved could also have a bearing on how well any investigation is carried out, and how it is recorded.

    However, this shouldn’t prevent police forces from adopting policies which view all suspicious wildlife incidents as potential crimes, and then to treat the matter from the outset in the same way they would if the victim were human.
    This is perhaps something on which there should be clear national guidelines?

    If an unconscious or dead person was found in the street with a wound to their body. The matter would most probably be treated as a crime from the outset. (unless there was evidence from witnesses, or other evidence gathered at the scene which clearly indicated that the injuries were not the result of a crime. In the case of a dead person the cause of death would then be established to rule out natural causes)

    In this case, a dead peregrine is found with a visible wound to its back.
    The question is do the police treat this as a potential crime from the outset, or do they wait until the cause of death has been established and it has been confirmed that the death can only be explained by a criminal act?
    My suspicion is that in most cases the latter policy is most probably adopted.

    Perhaps this is a matter stakeholders and various partnership organisations could take up with the NWCU or HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. (HMIC)?
    It is a matter which needs addressing, especially as raptor crimes are seen a priority wildlife crime, and maybe if the term “victim” was applied to raptors in the same way that it is to a human victim of a crime, we would see greater consistency between the different police forces as to how they respond and deal with suspicious raptor incidents, which hopefully could lead to a better chance of the perpetrators being caught and punished. Something which is rarely happening at the moment.

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