Dorset Police Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner on a futile damage limitation exercise

Right, moving away from this morning’s news about the illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle in Sussex, we’re back on the poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead in Dorset (it’s hard to keep up, I know).

This afternoon, Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Sidwick, and Dorset Police Chief Constable Scott Chilton, have both published statements in response to all the media attention brought to their doors by the failure of Dorset Police to fully investigate the circumstances of the poisoned eagle found dead on a shooting estate after it had ingested 7 x the lethal dose of a toxic rodenticide.

Here is what has appeared on the PCC’s website:

I’m sorry to say that I don’t see anything here other than a damage limitation exercise and an attempt to close down the public and media scrutiny to which both the police and the PCC’s office have been subjected (and rightly so, in my opinion).

It’s meaningless to talk about how ‘Dorset police continues to take any and all potential wildlife offences seriously and will act to prevent and detect offences wherever possible‘ when the investigation into the poisoned eagle was ended so abruptly and prematurely.

Why was the multi-agency search of the estate, planned for by Dorset Police’s award-winning wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale, called off at the last minute? There still hasn’t been an explanation for that and neither of these two statements comes close to addressing it.

And why was that award-winning wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale, removed from her post as wildlife crime lead?

And why was the word ‘wildlife’ removed from the title of the Rural Crime team if the team is still tackling wildlife crime?

There’s still more to come out in the public domain about this poisoned eagle case. Legal restrictions prevent me from publishing it right now but I’m hopeful that within a few weeks I’ll be able to do so once the wheels of justice have turned a bit further. And once this information is out, the public will be even more angry than they already are about the premature closing of the investigation. And I reckon Dorset Police know that. The PCC might not be aware of it but rest assured, he soon will be.

Meanwhile, this morning I finally received a response to my Freedom of Information request from the Dorset PCC’s office. I’ll be blogging about that very soon.

22 thoughts on “Dorset Police Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner on a futile damage limitation exercise”

  1. The way the investigation was dropped was clumsy and blatant in the extreme. Had the Chief Constable been behind it it would have been far more subtle – a gentle withering on the vine, ending up with ‘we were unable to find any conclusive evidence’ weeks if not months down the line. The way it’s been handled could just have been inept – I don’t think so – My feeling is that it was meant as a very clear message: ‘the police have been leant on, and leant on in a way that gives them no option ‘. When the Countryside Alliance and others talk about ‘rural crime’ it absolutely, categorically does not include illegal action against wildlife. It’s about stolen tractors and fly tipping and in my experience is massively over egged.

  2. Please do keep up this good work Ruth. It is important, and people like me wouldn’t know about it without your efforts – and there are those out there who would prefer all of this was kept quiet!

  3. The facts don’t add up when the PCC says he backed the police’s “full and thorough investigation” when we know the investigation wasn’t completed because the raid on the estate where the poor bird was found was called off. As Roderick says, most of those in rural areas think of rural crime as those crimes that affect them such as burglary, theft, rustling not those that affect wildlife like cutting a hedgerow full of nesting birds, killing birds of prey or polluting watercourses.

    1. Spot on, Tim! The paragraph which contains this assertion simply does not reflect the fact that the search was called off. It reads as though the PCC believed that it actually took place (‘full and thorough police investigation’!). Sooner or later they will realise that this matter is not going to go away and that they will have to properly address it.

  4. I totally agree with you Ruth – it’s a damage limitation exercise. Dorset police and the PCC have given no explanation as to why they have dropped the investigation or the ‘disappearance’ of Claire.
    I contacted Dorset police on 29 March to ask why the investigation was dropped. Response time was 14 days which has long expired. I have made a complaint about this (7 days response time) and so await that outcome. I’ve already been blocked by Scott Chilton and Stewart Gates for asking perfectly reasonable questions about illegal fox hunting. Therefore I conclude that they are not adequately addressing the concerns of the public in relation to wildlife crime.

  5. I thought I would revisit Dorset Police’s website to see what it currently says about Rural Crime. Absolutely nothing is the answer.
    At the time of posting, the link to “Rural Crime” (https://www.dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/rural-crime/) is blank, and says “This section of the site will be updated over the next few weeks”.
    Even weirder, its parent page, on “Help, Advice & Crime Prevention”‘ (https://www.dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/) doesn’t even have a link to the blank Rural Crime section at all. So maybe all rural criminality in Dorset has stopped?
    Thanks to the Wayback Machine, here’s how their page looked in February 2021 (https://bit.ly/3y58BZM), though even then, only ‘poaching’ was explicitly mentioned as a wildlife crime. But there was a nice photo of PC Claire Dinsdale.

  6. If Dorset police are committed to tackling wildlife crime why do others (Hunt Sabs) feel let down by their attitude to hunting.

    1. And why do Dorset police block someone on Twitter who asks reasonable and polite questions about illegal fox hunting? It all adds up to police bias

  7. I think the PCC is hoping and working on the theory that “bullshit baffles brains! no Chance.Keep up the good work Ruth and team.

  8. So this morning you had a response from the PCC to your FoI request. This afternoon the PCC and Chief publish. I think you have their full attention. Well done.

    The PCC’s para 7 avoids any mention of why the investigation was stopped.

  9. Thank you so much for highlighting the evils in our countryside and those in the establishment who try to cover up the evil

  10. Perhaps David Sidwick and Scott Chilton should remind themselves that actions speak louder than words.

    The premature closure of the investigation into the death of the poisoned white tailed eagle, before searches were carried out to establish whether any evidence could be found to help establish whether a crime had occurred or not, is hardly consistent with any suggestion of being committed to preventing or detecting wildlife crimes.

    I wonder what Scott Chilton really means when he says “It is vital to me that communities across Dorset have confidence in their Police force to deliver the services that matter to them and that’s why it is important to take time to listen to local people people and respond to their concerns.”?

    Could those “local people” be the land owners, estate managers and farmers, who Ben Loder claimed to represent, and who perhaps don’t want raptor crime properly investigated because such investigations might expose what really happened to the poisoned white tailed eagle?

    I would suggest that when it comes to wildlife crimes, confidence in Dorset police will only be reestablished when there is full openness, honesty and transparency into exactly what did take place as regard the white tailed eagle investigation, and when there has been proper public scrutiny to ensure that there was no political interference.

    Until then the clouds of suspicion will hang in the air, especially when the Chief Constables closing remarks are – Dorset police ” will act to prevent and detect offences wherever possible”.
    Perhaps Mr Chilton would like to explain and outline circumstances when it will not be possible to act to prevent and detect offences???

    1. I can tell you that Scott Chilton and Stewart Gates aren’t interested in the opinion of the likes of you and me. I have been blocked by both of them on Twitter for asking perfectly reasonable questions about terrier men on fox hunts.

      1. As Chief Constable, Scott Chilton should be interested in the standard of policing he is delivering in Dorset.
        If the standard of the investigation in to the poisoned white tailed eagle is a benchmark by which Dorset police conducts it’s wildlife crime investigations, then that standard doesn’t appear to be particularly high.
        Or is the standard of policing a person receives influenced by ones political allegiances and standing in the community?
        In which case HM Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services might be interested in whether when it comes to wildlife crimes, Dorset Police is offering the public an effective and efficient police service which meets best practice and compares favourably to the service offered by other constabularies?
        Hopefully someone in HMICFRS has picked up on the furor the white tailed eagle incident has generated, and will ask some searching questions next time they carry out an inspection of Dorset Constabulary.
        From what has been written and reported, something clearly isn’t right, and whatever isn’t right needs resolving if public confidence is to be restored.

  11. I don’t believe it is a “damage limitation” exercise. They simply do not care what the majority think.

    This is, quite simply, the opening lines of Dipstick’s next PCC election manifesto.

  12. We have local elections next week here in North Wales. I haven’t been approached or had any information on the candidates, so I’ve no idea of their opinion on crime, Wildlife or any other! I suppose I could find out online but what happened to good old fashioned canvassing? I will be asking the wildlife crime if I ever see the candidates! My own MP Rob Roberts toes the party line on everything. I’m very frustrated about it all but applaud the extremely hard work undertaken by you Ruth and Raptor Persecution/Wild Justice.

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