Following on from yesterday’s blog (see here) about the illegal mass poisoning of raptors in the Powys region of Wales and our question about whether Dyfed-Powys Police had covered up this atrocity…..
Chief Constable Simon Prince (head of Dyfed-Powys Police, Chair of the PAW UK Steering Group and ACPO lead on wildlife crime) sent us a tweet yesterday saying he would investigate our report and provide an update. He was as good as his word as this evening he sent us another tweet directing us to a statement that has just been added to the police website. In case it disappears, we’ve reproduced it here:
In response to blog by Raptor Persecution Scotland
Dyfed Powys Police take allegations of wildlife crime very seriously and investigates all incidents reported to us. Following information received in 2012 and 2013, relating to the deaths of raptors in Powys, a full investigation was carried out in partnership with the RSPB, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Wildlife Management Team in the Welsh Government. During the investigation a number of search warrants under the Wildlife and Countryside Act were executed and two people were arrested in connection with the incidents. A file of evidence was subsequently submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service who advised that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution.
We’re grateful to Chief Constable Prince for replying so promptly but this police statement leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of questions still unanswered.
The statement tells us that an investigation was undertaken, and this is further verified by a detailed blog written by one of the RSPB investigations team that has just appeared on the RSPB website (here). Good, we shouldn’t expect anything less. But, as is common in so many of these raptor persecution cases, the evidence was insufficient to proceed to a prosecution. That doesn’t mean that the mass poisoning didn’t occur – it clearly did – but it was not possible to identify a named suspect to face charges. We’re not going to criticise the police for that, especially after reading how pleased the RSPB investigator was with the police’s efforts during the investigation.
However, the focus of yesterday’s blog was whether Dyfed-Powys Police had embarked on a ‘cover-up’ of this mass raptor poisoning and that question still remains open. This crime has been described by the RSPB investigator as “the most significant wildlife poisoning case ever recorded from Wales, and the second highest recovery of poisoned birds of prey in any UK investigation during the last 40 years“. So why has Dyfed-Powys Police not made any public statement about it until we started asking questions yesterday? Surely it’s in the public interest to know about this?
In the recent past it has been standard practice for this police force, and other Welsh police forces, to make public statements about other (much smaller and thus less significant) poisoning/persecution incidents – e.g. see here, here, here, here and here. These statements can include an appeal for information and/or a warning to members of the public to be aware of dangerous toxic poisons in the local vicinity.
So just what is it about this mass poisoning crime that Dyfed-Powys Police has kept quiet about it for so long, even after the investigation had concluded?
You’ll note in the above police statement that the location has not been revealed. You’ll also note in the RSPB investigations blog that the location is given as a sporting (pheasant shooting) estate in the Brecon Beacons National Park, although the estate is still not named.
We think we’ve got a pretty good idea why this mass poisoning crime has not previously been made public (we’d call that covering it up). Since we published yesterday’s blog, several people have contacted us privately and each has named the same estate as being at the centre of the investigation. We’re not yet in a position to publish that estate name because we need to verify a few things first. But OH MY GOD. If it does turn out to be this estate, you’ll not struggle to put two and two together.
Photo of one of the poisoned red kites found on a pheasant shooting estate in the Brecon Beacons National Park, by Guy Shorrock (RSPB).