RSPB launches new ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’

RSPB press release:


The RSPB has launched a confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ (0300 999 0101) to help whistle-blowers within the shooting industry come forward with information about bird of prey persecution.

The link between driven grouse shooting and the illegal killing of birds of prey, such as peregrines and hen harriers, has been widely documented. The RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report revealed over 80 confirmed raptor persecution incidents had taken place in 2016, with many more likely to have gone undetected. It also showed that North Yorkshire has had more than twice as many confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county for the last five years.

The RSPB would like to see much more acceptance from shooting organisations about the scale and conservation impact of the persecution and more support to clean up the industry and help root out those involved.

Senior Investigations Officer Guy Shorrock, of the RSPB, said: “Illegal killing is not only robbing people of the chance to enjoy watching birds of prey but has serious consequences for their populations. We are sure there are people within rural and shooting communities who know who is committing these crimes but are cautious about speaking out. This 24-hour hotline provides a completely safe and confidential way to pass on information – calls are not recorded and are treated in the utmost confidence.

We would like to see shooting organisations showing their support by including the hotline on their websites and encouraging their members to come forward with information regarding crimes against birds of prey in the UK.”

Over the years RSPB Investigations staff have spoken in confidence with gamekeepers and others within the shooting industry and received graphic reports of routine and intensive raptor persecution on many sporting estates. In addition, it has provided a disturbing insight into management culture and the pressure put on gamekeepers, often from the very start of their careers, to kill protected wildlife. The RSPB will continue to push the government to introduce licensing of driven grouse shooting to improve accountability of these estates and to promote good practise.

Guy Shorrock said: “I’ve spoken with several gamekeepers about the raptor killing they are expected to do as part of their job. It is abundantly clear that without any meaningful accountability for managers and employers on intensively managed driven grouse moors the situation will not change.”

To launch the hotline, last weekend (17-18 February) RSPB investigations staff and North Yorkshire Police distributed promotional beer mats, featuring the hotline number, around some of the pubs of North Yorkshire: a particular hotspot for raptor persecution. This was part of the public awareness-raising initiative ‘Operation Owl’, aimed at informing local people of the impact raptor persecution has on bird of prey populations, tourism and the wider countryside.

North Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Oliver said: “The launch of the RSPB’s confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ is welcomed. I would always advise the public who wish to report any wildlife crime to contact the police, however I believe a further confidential contact point such as this will help contribute towards the fight in reducing the persecution of birds of prey and bringing those committing this despicable crimes to justice“.

If you have information about the illegal killing of birds of prey, please call the RSPB’s Raptor Crime Hotline for free on: 0300 999 0101.


11 Responses to “RSPB launches new ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’”

  1. February 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Whistle-blowers within the shooting industry? Good Luck with that then!

  2. 2 Chris Batchelor
    February 19, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I won’t be holding my breath while waiting for shooting organisations to promote the hotline, but well done RSPB. Another tightening of the noose.

  3. 3 Les Wallace
    February 19, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Brilliant stuff. I’m pretty sure the RSPB tried to do something like this a while ago, but there was the expected condemnation that it was ‘trying to get keepers to rat on colleagues’. There’s a definite change in the air now, the politics are shifting. I am hoping to be up in the Angus Glens in June I wonder if I could distribute some of those beer mats to local pubs?

  4. 4 Gordon Milward
    February 19, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    This will only work if the information supplied is acted upon. If not, it’ll wither on the vine. Success will breed success.

  5. 5 Phil Lavender
    February 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    This is another good move, a very good move. This hotline number, along with education, needs to be part of the curriculum at Gamekeeping colleges/courses for young trainee keepers. Get them educated young before they too become hardened and set into the ways of 19th century mentality keepers

  6. 6 Dave Dick
    February 19, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Good timing for this..with all of Chris Packham’s and Mark Avery’s work in the last couple of years, people are surely realising who the “good guys” are in the countryside, at last. Best of luck with this.

  7. 7 Chris Dobson
    February 19, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    The RSPB re-discovers some cojones! Excellent news. Plenty of publicity for who does (& doesn’t) pass on the hotline & we might just go mainstream. Raptors might stand a chance then

  8. 8 Hannah
    February 19, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    On Friday I was up at our field in Borwick Lancashire feeding our pony when we saw what we thought was an eagle in the field adjacent.
    As I tried to get closer the bird flew off into the trees and a few moments later flew quite close overhead!
    We are v used to buzzards over and around our fields but this definitely made us stop and left us thinking this was nothing we had seen there before! It was v upright with white around its collar and large talons, a little like a Harris hawk feet and beak but larger maybe! It was all rather quick but we were left thinking we had seen an eagle which we thought rather mad but then I saw the report!
    Just thought I should mention this.
    Best of luck on your search for Fred.
    I am not an expert but felt the need to say!

  9. February 19, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    After much thought, I’m sure, it looks like the RSPB have assessed all the pros and cons and finally set out their stall. This sends the right message to everyone, not least their membership. We see and hear of people in conservation abroad having to put everything on the line with sometimes the worst consequences. It shouldn’t be too difficult for everyone here to get right behind them now.

    Yes, they may have to take a volley of criticism from the shooting lobby and their political allies initially but public discussion, backed up with factual evidence and research will surely get results. This type of scheme should prove effective, but will be reliant on a determined approach from local police. That could vary in consistency from place to place.

  10. 10 BSA
    February 20, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    In any other industry if employers intimidated employees into criminal acts that would be a matter for the employee’s union. There are, as Guy Shorrock says, undoubtedly some ‘keepers who do not like the pressure to break the law, but the failure of the SGA and NGA to represent their member’s interests by dealing with this just reflects the criminal state of the whole industry. No-one is likely to break ranks for this initiative, anonymously or otherwise, if they are isolated and without support.

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