Yesterday evening Dorset Police held an hour-long live web chat on Facebook offering the public an opportunity to put questions to Chief Constable Scott Chilton and the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Sidwick.
Many thanks to all those who posed questions about Dorset Police’s unfathomable decision to prematurely close the investigation into the death of the white-tailed eagle found poisoned on an unnamed shooting estate in January this year.
To their credit, the Chief Constable and the PCC took two questions on this subject but I’m afraid their answers were unconvincing and simply a repeat of the damage limitation exercise they undertook last month (here).
The Chief Constable maintained that the decision to close the investigation without first conducting a search of the estate to look for evidence of potential criminality was ‘proportionate’. He also said that following complaints, he’d asked a senior detective to review the case and he, too, had determined that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘no outstanding lines of enquiry’ to progress the case. Well of course, if you fail to conduct a search you’re not going to find any evidence, are you? It’s simply bonkers.
Both the Chief Constable and the PCC were adamant that undue political interference did not take place. “Absolutely not true“, said Chief Constable Chilton, and “No credibility to that whatsoever“, said PCC David Sidwick.
You can watch a recording of the chat here. The two questions about wildlife crime and the poisoned eagle are at 28.35 and 33.17 mins.
[The poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on an unnamed shooting estate in Dorset in January 2022. Photo by Dorset Police]
Yesterday also saw the release of a number of FoI responses from Dorset Police (although not mine – that’s still way overdue) and the ones that some blog readers have shared with me seem to be a cut and paste job, just repeating this line:
‘As a result of the sea eagle being found dead on land in the North Dorset area, our team has carried out a full and proportionate investigation under Section 1 of the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981 in conjunction with Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, the RSPB and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to identify any offences and perpetrators who may be responsible‘.
But that’s just not true. The RSPB has questioned the decision to close the investigation without undertaking the pre-planned investigation, and called the decision ‘completely baffling’ (here).
There’s still much, much more to come out about this case. For reasons that will become clear, I need to wait until the end of the week to publish some of it.
For a full list of previous blogs on this case please see here and scroll to the bottom.