National Gamekeepers Organisation is latest from shooting industry to attack police & RSPB for raptor crime reporting

Last week I blogged about how a major shooting industry organisation, BASC, had attacked Suffolk Police for what BASC perceived to be an ‘offensive’ police appeal for information about the shooting of five young goshawks found dead at the edge of woodland near Thetford (here).

BASC complained that the police’s appeal was “disparaging to the shooting community” simply because the police had asked the shooting community for help to identify the shot gun-wielding criminal(!). Astonishingly, BASC’s complaint resulted in the police’s tweet/appeal for information being deleted.

Later, Suffolk Police released a joint press release with the RSPB, which seemed to enrage BASC even further. Bizarrely, BASC wrote on a blog:

Can we assume the RSPB has more information on the matter than BASC as they were very quick yesterday to offer a £5,000 reward for information leading to conviction; shortly followed by a similar pledge from Wild Justice? It would be useful to know whether RSPB are complainants, victims, witnesses or have any other relationship with Suffolk Constabulary“.

I would argue that this is a cack-handed but sinister attempt by BASC to try and influence the narrative on raptor persecution crimes. If the police are too scared to publicise a raptor persecution incident or appeal for information about it, because they’re scared of a backlash from the industry who are, let’s not forget, responsible for 73% of convictions for raptor persecution crimes, then it’s job done for the shooting industry. No reports = no publicity = no bad press = no public pressure on politicians to tackle these relentless, systemic crimes.

And it’s not just BASC that appears to be at it. The National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) has recently written on its website its dissatisfaction with Lincolnshire Police and the RSPB about the reporting of raptor persecution offences in that county. It’s mostly about a recent incident where the remains of three barn owls, one tawny owl and one red kite were found dumped in a ditch (here), and the NGO incorrectly accuses RSPB Investigations Officer Howard Jones of ‘insinuating that a gamekeeper might be to blame for the Lincolnshire incident‘ in a BBC news article.

Actually, Howard Jones did no such thing, he was talking about raptor persecution crimes in general and he was simply stating facts – the “vast majority” of raptor persecution cases being dealt with by the courts involve gamekeepers. That is a factually accurate statement from Howard, however unpalatable/embarrassing that may be to the NGO. Neither the RSPB or Lincolnshire Police laid any blame on anybody after the discovery of those bird of prey remains in Lincolnshire – they simply said it was an ‘unusual’ case and were appealing for information (here).

The ridiculous NGO, though, has written on its website:

The NGO are in contact with DC Flint of Lincolnshire Police and are hoping to meet with him in the near future to discuss both this case and to highlight our concerns about the reporting surrounding this case“.   

Meanwhile, the NGO has failed (refused?) to publicise the recent conviction of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen, who pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences after the discovery of six shot buzzards, the burnt remains of three more buzzards, and three different types of banned poisons on his pheasant shoot and a loaded shotgun found propped up behind his kitchen door with rounds of unlicensed ammunition in an out-building.

The NGO has also remained silent about the discovery of the five shot goshawks found dumped in Suffolk last week.

Like BASC, you’ll know that the NGO is a member of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), a so-called partnership (it’s a sham) whose main objective is to help eradicate raptor persecution by highlighting these crimes and publicly condemning the criminals involved.

Long-term blog readers will know this attempted manipulation of the narrative by the game-shooting industry is nothing new and has been going on for years, mostly behind the scenes and only uncovered via Freedom of Information requests (e.g. see here and here).

I’ve just been sent yet another example of it, this time in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. More on that shortly…

16 thoughts on “National Gamekeepers Organisation is latest from shooting industry to attack police & RSPB for raptor crime reporting”

  1. Maybe the shooting fraternity need to examine the acronym RSPB where the P stands for Protection. I think it is clearly the RSPB carrying out their remit. I also think the cowardly shooters are taking a stupid stance because “if the shoe fits, wear it” Hence the panic and an attack anything remotely against their barbaric “sport”.

  2. Some might think that statement betrayed a guilty conscience. Of course I wouldn’t dream of doing so…..

  3. “…It would be useful to know whether RSPB are complainants, victims, witnesses or have any other relationship with Suffolk Constabulary“. Christ-on-a-bike that’s rich coming from this shower who successfully lent on the police into removing an innocuous Tweet. I think BASC et al have far more pals in the police than anyone else.

    Well done Ruth for continuing to highlight the incessant duplicity of the shooting industry’s gobshites.

  4. The hysterical tone of these responses from BASC and the NGO, to incidents, let’s not forget, where the law is being routinely broken by people with access to firearms, calls into question whether their members are fit and proper persons to hold and use such dangerous weapons. All those who have a firearms certificate should be subject to regular random inspections and if regulations are being broken, certificates should be withdrawn. Perhaps it’s time for the Firearms Act of 1968 to be reviewed, the ‘Authorised lending and possession of firearms for hunting’, in particular.

    1. “where the law is being routinely broken by people with access to firearms”

      It might/should surprise people that ‘gun crime’ does not currently appear to include the illegal shooting of wildlife in England and Wales. My attention to this was drawn by Ian Parsons in a recent Dr Mark Avery blog.

      For example, the College of Policing explain…

      “The Home Office definition of gun crime, sometimes referred to as the Crimsec 30 definition, is set out below:

      Gun crime is crime (violence against the person, robbery, burglary and sexual offences) in which guns are taken to be involved in an offence. A gun is taken to be involved in an offence if it is fired, used as a blunt instrument, or used as a threat.

      Where the victim is convinced of the presence of a firearm, even if it is concealed, and there is evidence of the suspect’s intention to create this impression, then the incident counts. Both real, and fake firearms, and air weapons are counted within this category.”

      No mention of the involvement of wildlife.

      This has ramifications on statistics and the required/expected Police response.

      I have looked at:

      House of Commons Firearm Crime Statistics: England and Wales,

      and at the ONS:

      Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2022, Offences involving the use of weapons: data tables

      upon which the House of Commons report is based. I can find no mention of ‘wildlife’ in either.

      See https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7654/

  5. SAign of the times that we can now see and find out what these duplicitous tossers are up to. they have wielded power for a long time in diluting police effort to solve wildlife crime but are probably now running scared because of the success of the several well publicized joint raids and the bad PR it gets them. The police of course should just tell them to help or butt out , WTF do they think they are. To many of us not opposed to some real hunting to get personal wild food driven and commercial shooting is an anathema and time it and its wildlife laden perpetrators were consigned to prison or the history books.
    I must say I like them running scared and making oafs of themselves.

  6. What century are we in again?
    About time these ‘Country pursuits’ were stopped. All involve harm and death to wildlife, also shooting game birds that no one wants to eat. Not to mention the killing of family pets and riding roughshod over private property.

  7. The Shooting Lobby have cottoned on to what I have been banging on about for some time ; that is that the apparatus designed and built to deal with wildlife crimes involving extremely wealthy interests has been undermined and, in the big majority of cases, but not all, is now unfit to do the job. They have identified that the biggest danger to the curtailing of their “sport” is public pressure, hence the big push to keep these crimes out of sight of the public. The public identify strongly with birds and animals and would be easy to motivate and activate if enough information reached them and it is on broad public issues like this where money and hidden power meets it’s match .. as the new successes against fox hunting are illustrating.
    They understand that they cannot use public debate to fend off the interest as they generally only have lies and untruths to fight with and none of the ones with power really want to put their face upfront as they have too many other irons in the fire which might become damaged in the process .. and the ones they currently have flying their banner lack the sophistication to do anything other than look silly .. and this simply gets folks backs up.
    Aye, the sharp end is approaching .. and about time too. Keep pressing — hard.

  8. The hole into which the shooting fraternity’s collective credibility has sunk gets deeper by the day. You would think that they would help their cause by condemning the undoubted atrocities against wildlife committed by people with guns, such as have been highlighted recently on this blog. However, they choose to continue to flounder in a mess of their own making by criticising the Police, RSPB etc. for drawing attention to what is happening. Do they not see that, by doing so, they are perceived to be supporters of the wrong-doers? Is it that they just don’t care or are they so thick that they can’t see what is staring them in the face? I suspect that there may be an unwillingness – perhaps potentially seen as indicative of weakness – to be the first to break ranks and admit that there are rotten apples in the barrel.

  9. I actually think this sort of response is very encouraging. It suggests to me that there are some very rattled people out there who are flailing about. Unable to find a coherent response they are forced into ad hominem attacks on the messengers.
    Keep up the good work!

  10. Some shooters really need to,, oh whats the bloody point, the ship is sinking and sinking fast, wake up and realise what damage you are doing to the shooting sport/industry/fraternity/image/support/public opinion. And the main thing is the protected birds that keep getting bumped off, theres no doubting or denying it, these characters need to be outed and have no place in the shooting scene,
    all shooting organisations should be condeming these crimes.

  11. It really is very simple. All membership bodies (BASC et al) must have a code of conduct which should be publicly available. If breached, and proven, the offenders must be expelled, preferably for life. Until proven these bodies have a duty to cooperate with the authorities whilst unreservedly and publicly condemning such reported events. However, the not yet proven statement is inevitable in all cases.

    It is worth noting that in all walks of life self-policing is very hard to achieve.

    I know there are entrenched and polarised opinions here but there must be some opportunity for an agreed accord between a legal field sports body and conservation/protectionists. Jaw, jaw is better than war, war. I speak from experience in conflict management. It is a waste of time trying to score points.

    The statement is: ‘A crime may have been committed’ says one party. ‘We condemn any such action and if proven will act, but in the meantime we will always cooperate with the police’, says the other party.

  12. As for what RSPB stands for. I’m not sure the R should be retained as the Royals have shooting estates unless I’m mistaken.

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