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Wildlife crime 'not taken seriously'

18 August 2009 - BBC News

A shake-up of wildlife policing is being called for by conservationists including The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and The Wildlife Trusts. They say an inconsistent and often poor response to wildlife crime from police means criminals are able to break the law with little fear of detection.

Last year the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) recorded 3,514 reported incidents of wildlife crime, but just 51 convictions.

Often these offences, such as egg theft or badger baiting, take place in rural locations, making the gathering of evidence difficult. And securing a conviction usually requires expert knowledge from police and prosecutors.

Nonetheless, conservationists believe more could and should be done. The RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts are now calling for a fundamental review of the way crimes against wildlife are dealt with in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The charities say the lack of a national standard has led to an inconsistent and often poor response to wildlife crime from police.

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