Wildlife crime takes many forms, from people shooting at birds with air guns in the local park to the more organised crimes of badger baiting and the trade in endangered species. There are around 150 different laws designed to protect wildlife in the UK and many more global controls that we have adopted. H.M. Revenue & Customs are responsible for the enforcement of controls on trade between the UK and non-EC states, but enforcement within the UK is the responsibility of the police.
The police service is responsible for enforcing the law in relation to:
• Illegal trade in endangered species • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild birds • Taking/possessing/destroying wild birds eggs/nest disturbance • Badger persecution • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild bats • Illegal trapping/snaring of wild animals • Illegal hunting of wild mammals • Damaging protected sites • Illegal poisoning of wildlife • Disturbing cetaceans • Stealing wild plants • Illegal hunting and poaching
Select Here to visit the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit Website.
Reporting Wildlife Crime
Incidents should be reported as you would any other incident, by calling Cumbria police on 101 or in an emergency 999. Alternatively if you would like to file a non-emergency crime report you can do so here.
As the Policing of wildlife crime is a specialist subject, Cumbria Police has a full-time Wildlife and Environmental Crime Officer, supported by a small number of Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) based across the county who fulfil this role in addiction to their normal duties and neighbourhood policing role.
Wildlife in Cumbria
Cumbria is a large rural county which incorporates the largest National Park in England, The Lake District. Cumbria also has the most diverse range of environment and habitat from coastal to mountain range. We are lucky to have wildlife which live and breed successfully and which do not exist in other parts of the country including the first breeding Osprey's for 150 years in England and Hen Harriers one the most endangered birds of prey in the UK.
As a rural county issues reported regularly by the community are in relation to poaching of deer and other animals, offences against badgers and the hunting of animals including foxes. All wildlife crime can be difficult to prevent and investigate as it quite often takes place out of sight of the public but when intelligence and information is received there are a number of wildlife crime officers (WCO) based around the county who can investigate these incidents. Currently these officers carryout their wildlife investigations as a secondary role to their core responsibility which is policing of our neighbourhoods.
Wildlife crime law enforcement is a specialist area of policing, often requiring assistance from people working outside the police service. Launched in 1995, the Partnership for Action against Wildlife crime, known as PAW, was established as a multi-agency partnership to combat wildlife crime. It is jointly chaired by the police and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and comprises key government departments and agencies, conservation organisations, game-keeping groups and landowning interests.
PAW provides support for the networks of Police Wildlife Crime Officers and Customs Officers. It facilitates the exchange of information, experience, specialist knowledge and expertise on wildlife enforcement related topics between all the agencies involved in this area of law enforcement. For more details please visit: www.defra.gov.uk/paw
Further Information Links
Royal Society for Protection of Birds: www.rspb.co.uk
Badger Trust: www.badger.org.uk
Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: www.rspca.org.uk
Bat Conservation Trust: www.bats.org.uk
Partnership for action against wildlife crime: www.defra.gov/paw
Joint Nature Conservation Commission: www.jncc.gov.uk
Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: www.defra.gov.uk
British Association of Shooting and Conservation: www.basc.org.uk
National Wildlife Crime Unit: www.north-wales.police.uk/nwcu/home.asp
Natural England: www.naturalengland.org.uk
Plant Life: www.plantlife.org.uk
Frog Life: www.froglife.org.uk
Marine Life rescue: www.bdmlr.org.uk
Cumbria Wildlife Trust: www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk