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Mar
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Former Police Chief’s toxic vendetta against RSPB undermines partnership to tackle wildlife crime

We’ve often blogged about the so-called Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) and how little faith we have in its effectiveness for tackling illegal raptor persecution.

One of our biggest criticisms has always been the involvement of some representative groups from the game-shooting industry, who show little sign of actual partnership-working but instead use their PAW membership as a useful PR exercise, masquerading as genuine conservation partners but constantly undermining the efforts of others by use of obstruction, obsfuscation and outright denial that there’s even a problem to be addressed.

It’s pretty shocking then, to find out that the game-shooting industry has not been alone in faking a commitment to genuine partnership-working.

It turns out that Detective Inspector Nevin Hunter, the then head of the police National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) (from Feb 2012 to July 2014), was running what appears to have been a nasty little campaign during his tenure, aimed directly at discrediting the work of the RSPB’s Investigations Team and marginalising their assistance with raptor persecution investigations. Incredibly, this disgraceful ‘partnership-working’ behaviour began immediately after the RSPB had helped secure emergency funding to keep the NWCU running for another year!

Talk about backstabbing!

This has all been revealed in an FoI disclosure that was published earlier this week. The disclosure reveals a long string of toxic email correspondence from Nevin Hunter to various NWCU staff, to police forces across the country, and to various staff members at Natural England and DEFRA, amongst others.

This dossier can be read here: NWCU correspondence on RSPB Investigations_2013_2014

It reads as an unprofessional, personal vendetta carried out by a senior police officer who appears to have been using scarce public money (that was supposed to be used to fight wildlife crime) to instead fund a grand tour of the UK, dripping poison in to the ears of junior-ranking police officers and encouraging them to bad mouth the RSPB. It’s not a great look, Nevin.

The FoI request is believed to have been submitted by someone with a previous criminal conviction for raptor persecution offences and who has since held a a very public, unhealthy and obsessional grudge against the RSPB’s Investigations Team, undoubtedly because their work was instrumental in securing his conviction.

The FoI request read as follows:

Please supply all the information held by the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit and the police in relation to problems with the RSPB (including notes, statements and emails to and from Nevin Hunter to the RSPB and the police, especially in regards to not using the RSPB on police raids and not allowing the RSPB to take over criminal cases as has occurred in the past.

I am particularly interested in relation to the directions given to various organisations and people like wildlife liaison officers not to use the RSPB given by Nevin Hunter between 20th February 2012 – 31 July 2014 and any subsequent directions (including notes, statements and emails to and from Nevin Hunter to the RSPB).

It’s an unusually specific FoI request, isn’t it? It’s almost as if someone tipped off the applicant that this information would be available.

Anyway, never one to miss an opportunity to slur the RSPB and deflect attention away from grouse moor mismanagement and the associated wildlife crimes, the grouse-shooting industry’s mouthpiece group You Forgot the Birds has jumped all over this and we’re expecting them to have received coverage in today’s media with the following press release:

FOI REVEALS POLICE AT WAR WITH RSPB OVER INVESTIGATIONS

An FOI response released this week has revealed an extraordinary power struggle between the police and the RSPB over who controls investigations into wildlife crime.

In it senior police officers and government officials accused the RSPB of failing to report crimes, committing trespass and abusing the police national computer.

The police expressed concern that they had been seen as “being in the pocket of the RSPB” (p7) with wildlife crime cases “often ‘led’ by” the RSPB (p43). The charity was doing its own “surveillance,” was “trespassing”, would “covertly seize evidence” and “then expect to be part of enforcement activity [including] warrants, searches, interviews and file preparation.” (p27)

Police Scotland wrote that the RSPB’s “time is coming up here as well – they just haven’t woken up to it yet! The RSPB will kick and scream.” (p19).

Police Scotland warned that the RSPB’s threat to “withhold raptor persecution incidents will only result in severe criticism and credibility issues; the RSPB becoming the biggest obstruction in raptor persecution investigation.” (p20)

Defra said that “when the conduct of an NGO begins to prejudice the integrity of investigations action needs to be taken…there are people within the RSPB …holding back important info for what appears to be no other reason than to get a media splash… And who loses out? Every time it’s the birds.” (p2)

A series of NWCU concerns included that the RSPB had “failed to report the poisoning of a marsh harrier until 6 months after the event and then only by press release… This frustrated the investigation” (p5)

A particular concern was the RSPB’s use of the police national computer. Here the RSPB used its relationship with the Norfolk Constabulary to conduct a PNC search regarding alleged crime in Cumbria. The FOI shows that the Norfolk police could not justify the RSPB’s use of the police database.

The NWCU commented: “I’m pretty sure that they have ‘tricked’ Norfolk into getting this PNC data. If this is so then RSPB could well have breached the DPA.” (p35)  A later email said “I am quite frankly appalled that in the world of wildlife policing the Police are handing over computers/computer downloads, to a Charity, who then use a third party to look for evidence. I would be suing the Chief Constable.” (p37)

Commenting on the disclosures the campaign group You Forgot The Birds said that the RSPB was abusing the justice system. “This power hungry charity has been usurping the role of the police and prosecutors. The RSPB’s arrogance, massive income and lack of accountability is a dangerous cocktail which politicians should address,” said YFTB’s director, Ian Gregory.

ENDS

Many of the accusations made by Nevin and his colleagues, and cherry-picked by YFTB to cause maximum repuational damage to the RSPB, are baseless, misrepresentative and just plain bizarre.

Why on earth would the RSPB allegedly “threaten to withhold raptor persecution incidents” from the Police? The RSPB is not a reporting agency so couldn’t sidestep police involvement even if it wanted to, so what could possibly be its motivation for making this alleged statement?

Some of the accusations actually reveal an appalling lack of communication between the police. For example, the so-called ‘tricking’ of the police by the RSPB to access the Police National Computer. There was no ‘trickery’ involved – the RSPB had a signed-off protocol with Norfolk Constabulary of which Nevin was completely ignorant!

The RSPB has responded to the release of the FoI with the following statement:

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director said:Our investigations team does fantastic work to help tackle wildlife crime. Their commitment and dedication is exceptional and I am proud of the work they do.

We have numerous concerns about these internal police conversations from four years ago and it is clear that the framing of the question used to obtain these emails is designed to drive a wedge between the RSPB and the Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit and our current strong relationship. Anyone looking at the question will see that it is attempting to take attention away from our important joint work in stopping the illegal killing of the UK’s birds.

Stopping wildlife crime is one of the foundations upon which the RSPB is built. I believe that all those genuinely motivated to end this in the UK benefit from the proven experience of our Investigations team and so I urge everyone to continue to work together to do what really matters – end the illegal killing of birds of prey.

The RSPB has a long track record in assisting the statutory agencies and the police, so we were deeply disappointed to find out that in 2013 and 2014 the then head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit was being so critical behind our backs, circulating false and misleading comments. These emails were sent at a time when we had been campaigning to secure the long term future of the NWCU.

I am pleased that we currently have a good working relationship both with police forces across the UK and the NWCU, and I have complete confidence the systems and processes which underpin our investigations“.

END

It’s clear that YFTB is trying to cause as much damage as possible to the RSPB’s reputation – that’s been the main objective ever since the grouse-shooting industry established this fake news outfit a couple of years ago.

However, in our opinion, it’s not the RSPB that comes out of this with the most damaged reputation, its the NWCU. At a time when Detective Inspector Nevin Hunter was officially bigging up partnership-working with the RSPB and other PAW organisations (e.g. see here, here), it looks like behind closed doors he was doing his best to destroy it.

The question remains, why? Why, if Nevin was charged with progressing the UK Raptor Persecution Wildlife Crime Priority, with no real track record in this specialised area, was he trying to actively exclude the one agency with a proven track record of working with police to tackle this area of crime?

The other big question is, what happens now? Thankfully Nevin has long gone, and good riddance to him. But how much damage has been caused to this partnership? The new head of the NWCU, Chief Inspector Louise Hubble, must be mortified. This isn’t her mess but she’s inherited it and now has to deal with it.

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36 Responses to “Former Police Chief’s toxic vendetta against RSPB undermines partnership to tackle wildlife crime”


  1. March 29, 2018 at 5:24 am

    If anyone knows the peeler’s it will not come as a surprise .

  2. March 29, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Where does the head of the NWCU take their instruction from? You have to wonder if this behaviour was being directed from above?

  3. 3 Ian Carter
    March 29, 2018 at 8:01 am

    I got caught in the middle of this a few times when at Natural England. It was made clear that we were not to involve RSPB in cases because that would be ‘inappropriate’ – this despite a long history of working closely with RSBP Investigations, making use of their considerable expertise and dedication to tackling wildlife crime. Many Police forces did exactly the same and plenty of people were brought to justice as a result. My interpretation at the time was that this vendetta was based purely on jealousy and embarrassment. A properly resourced NWCU should have been the place for government bodies and local Police forces to go to for expertise and assistance. The fact that RSPB Investigations was often the best source of support and expertise was embarrassing. For that reason it was suggested that working with RSPB was ‘inappropriate’ and should not happen to the same extent in future. In my view investigations on the ground suffered as a result. And as you say, it is very easy to judge RSPB’s underlying motivation in this. They wanted to tackle wildlife crime effectively and they have always campaigned to try to get the NWCU properly resourced.

    • 4 Mick
      March 30, 2018 at 6:58 am

      Well said Ian, I would hate to think where we would be without RSPB and their investigators. My thought are the shocking situation in 2016 when nobody was prosecuted for crimes against birds of prey would have been the norm. I suppose we could have been relying on people like the former wildlife crime officer who currently works for BASC. We all know what happened with raptors in his area while he was employed in his role.

  4. 5 Brian Ramsay
    March 29, 2018 at 8:26 am

    At last it has been exposed NWCU are not part of the solution but are part of the problem.

    They continue in a concerted effort in both England and Scotland to rubbish and exclude NGO,s including RSPB, SSPCA and RSPCA.

    Spreading lies to police officers and the CPS and COPFS.

    All this is no surprise and has been happening for many years.

    Whilst police undoubtleldy should be the lead in investigating wildlife crime history has shown that the effectiveness of enforcement relies upon partnership working. And why would police not what the assistance of experts and extra resources in an area where they have admitted they have serious difficulty.

    Let’s not forget the efforts of the RSPB which include promoting the appointment of police wildlife liason officers, hosting the Scottish police wildlife conference which they handed over to police promptly was killed and now defuncted.

    This makes a mockery of PAW and highlights all that is wrong with a single orealisation investigating wildlife crime.

    Meantime wildlife criminals are enjoying getting away with it……

  5. 6 Secret Squirrel
    March 29, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Hasn’t there been cases in the past where a Police Wildlife Crime officer was involved in shooting and hunting?

  6. 13 George M
    March 29, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Fifth columnists within the ranks of those involved with conservation issues. Who knew? This shows yet another strategy which was concealed from the public while presenting them with a completely different approach. Isn’t there an enquiry taking place dealing with “undercover policing”? This would appear to be another example of that very thing … and this time working towards reducing the effectiveness of efforts to apprehand and convict those engaged in the illegal persecution of birds of prey.

  7. March 29, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Nevin Hunter (how appropriate that name is!) may be long gone but the embarrassment he has brought upon the MWCU and its current leadership will take a long time to wash off. One way to speed the process would be for the police to take a long hard look at these communications and, if they can find evidence of him covertly working against the stated aims of the NWCU, bringing a prosecution against him for [alleged] misconduct in a public office.

  8. March 29, 2018 at 11:53 am

    What starts off as basically, job protection (an unwillingness to involve others, more knowledgable and more enthusiastic) would have become a bit of a distraction to any investigation. To a neutral observer, it can begin to look like incompetence and even obstruction, with the other parties taking the lead from the Police. It’s not difficult to imagine why so many investigations just don’t seem to get anywhere. We finish up praising any moderate success, where Police have done a good job, as exceptional in comparison.
    When other parties involved take the lead from Police in these type of situations, and that would be likely and totally understandable, it must have resulted in a virtual exclusion of direct RSPB involvement on some issues – they would have found themselves out of the information loop, as can be seen from reading these efforts at correspondence / subterfuge. It shows a total lack of leadership and integrity. How much of this could have found it’s way into other areas of policing ? We can only guess, although we know that it has in the past.

    Do we have individual officers guided into promoted posts, in the knowledge they can be
    managed from above ?

    This Foi request would have been made in an attempt to discredit the RSPB (to show that they didn’t have the confidence of the Police and might have been viewed as being impartial). We should be in no doubt that it was made knowing exactly what information would be released.

    It will do more to damage public confidence in the police. Whoever made the request may not be getting the pat on the back they might have expected from like-minded individuals.

    I would suspect the RSPB are not too unhappy to see the correspondence released – the Police and especially the officer involved – not so much.

    I think, as well, that it gives us a better idea of just exactly what the RSPB has had to put up with in these joint ventures. Spare a thought …….

  9. 16 Simon Tucker
    March 29, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Surely the simple answer is for the current head of the NWCU to come out and openly support the RSPB and laud the work their investigations team are doing? Whilst she is at it, she should state unequivocally that they are under-funded, fighting against entrenched attitudes and political corruption (Natural England and DEFRA are as polluted by political corruption and incapable of working for the common good as they could be), and are dependent upon the work of the NGO’s to help them fight what little crime they manage to.

    • 17 SOG
      March 29, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      I see your viewpoint, but fear she’d be replaced promptly. These attitudes, Police and NE, look like they are imposed from above.

  10. 18 Roderick Leslie
    March 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    A real compliment to RSPB’s superb work, if a back handed one. But extremely worrying in an era where political direction to public bodies is doing everything it can to close down transparency and any engagement from anyone who disagrees with their views.

  11. 19 Jimmy
    March 29, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Would go someway to explain the ongoing failure to reign in the criminals running riot on grouse moors

  12. 20 Gerard
    March 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Blimey, these old school tie networks in the UK, must be obliterated, for the sake of everyone else.

  13. 21 Al Woodcock
    March 29, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    So Botham’s mate Paul Dacre will no doubt give him a slot in the Daily Mail in the next few days to publicly slate the RSPB. Again.

  14. 22 Jock Tamsin
    March 29, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Just checked the NWCU website and noted the following

    “We are also the conduit between police forces and PAW partners.”

    RSPB ,RSPCA and SSPCA are not given a single mention and are not listed. This is very surprising given the work that these organisations carry out and their proven track record.

    Bizarrely the Angling Society is listed?

    It is clear NWCU has been partaking in a nasty hidden agenda to discredit and marginalise certain NGO,s. This surely is completely against primarily function of the NWCU.

    This organisation is clearly not to be trusted let alone funded.

  15. 23 Adam
    March 30, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    I think your blogpost misrepresents the content of the emails. Have you actually read the whole dossier?

    I have no way of knowing whether or not the claims relating to the RSPB are true (and I suspect you don’t either), but I don’t think it reads as ‘an unprofessional, personal vendetta’. It is mainly about the development of a wildlife crime SOP to ensure the integrity of investigations. (The Scottish case which was discontinued last year due to the potential inadmissibility of undercover video evidence obtained by the RSPB is in point.) It also appears to be the case that it wasn’t just Nevin Hunter or the NWCU who had concerns but other public bodies. Although the comments attributed to Police Scotland were from an officer who was seconded to NWCU and he did not speak on behalf of PSoS. (See:
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16122768.Officer_warned_that_RSPB_s__time_was_up__amid_wildlife_crime_turf_war/ )

    Surely, tackling wildlife crime should be part of the mainstream effort to prevent, investigate and prosecute criminal behaviour so that it would no longer be a “fringe area of policing”. If the aim is to have wildlife crime investigations led by professionals (which usually means the police and other organisations whose main job is to investigate) – with expert assistance if required – then I don’t see why that should not be welcomed.
    Organisations with expertise in a particular area should always be welcomed to assist, but it seems unreasonable to assume that they should be involved in every aspect of the police investigation or privy to all police information. (For example, PRS for Music (and similar organisations) will sometimes provide assistance in cases relating to copyright, and if necessary assist with searches carried out under warrant, but it will not attempt to lead the investigation or seize evidence.)

    If Martin Harper is correct that the intention of YFTB is to ‘drive a wedge between the RSPB and the Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit’, then it seems that you are assisting YFTB in their efforts.

    • 24 Joe Boyle
      March 31, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Adam

      Always nice to hear from a police or ex police officer when their backs are against the wall!

      It is very clear from the communications within the FOI between Nevin and his brigade of yes men that they were conspiring to reduce RSPB to mere “members of the public”.

      If you are aware ( I suspect you may be) of the long history associated with raptor persecution in the UK then you will know that RSPB are truly the experts in this field and have tirelessly attempted to assist and promote police in investigations. On many occasions where investigations haven’t been conducted or have been substand.

      The police and NWCU have to date a woefully track record in this area. Part of the reason is having to deal with isues that have a far higher priority and manage this within an environment of crippling budget cuts.

      All other areas requiring specialist police investigation have dealt with this by adopting a partnership approach relying on expertise and resource from other agencies.

      NWCU have done the complete opposite choosing to exclude NGO,s and advising many police wildlife crime officers to do the same.

      This is completely against the the role NWCU who have a major responsibility in assisting police by promoting partnership working.

      No one wants or expects NGO,s to take over wildlife crime investigations despite the lack of success by police.

      The behaviour of NWCU is disgraceful and I am sure that in the fullness of time the allegations against RSPB will be found to be without foundation.

      Unlike NWCU and many police officers, RSPB are honest, professional and have the best interests of raptors and reducing wildlife crime in general at heart.

      It is time to look at NWCU and the police wildlife crime network and ensure they adopt an honest partnership approach as is being done by the interventions strategies across the UK.

    • March 31, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      I agree Adam that is how it looks if you have total faith in the police, their abilities and integrity and the same for DEFRA and NE.
      However it is not nearly as simple as that if you take a look at the whole picture.
      I don’t know a lot about the politics of all this but one or two things stand out.
      How does the SSPCA fit into all this? If the police are more concerned about procedure than results how would they ever have accepted giving up some of their work and power to the SSPCA, never mind the RSPB.
      I have a tremendous respect and admiration for Dave Dick after reading his book Wildlife Crime and his comments on this blog. He described incidents where the police were missing things in searches which from his decades of experience were obvious. Slowly slowly his expertise was excluded from police investigations. This would all be fine if the police expertise had equalled his but the proof is in the pudding. I am sure, as RPUK has pointed out many times, there are some excellent wildlife police but in general they don’t appear to be doing a good job. Of course they are undermanned but then why exclude the RSPB and SSPCA? Have they done better since the RSPB was pushed aside? I think the answer to that is obvious.
      I read that FOI dossier as a power grab by a very paranoid clique and i am very glad that the RSPB Senior Investigations Officer was calling a spade a spade and bringing his passion to the issue.
      I am afraid the media will see it your way.

      • 26 Adam
        March 31, 2018 at 10:31 pm

        I have some faith in the police, their abilities and integrity but it is far from being “total”. You may be right that there is politics involved behind the curtains, but taken the emails at face value (and I appreciate that not everyone will want to do this) I could not discover a “personal vendetta” against the RSPB (which does not necessarily mean that there wasn’t any).

        “How does the SSPCA fit into all this? If the police are more concerned about procedure than results how would they ever have accepted giving up some of their work and power to the SSPCA, never mind the RSPB.”

        First, being concerned about procedure is not incompatible with concerned about results. (Not to mention that ignoring procedures is a luxury the police can rarely afford.) Would you not agree that having clear procedures and adhering to those procedures is more likely to lead to results? However, having Standard Operating Procedures is more than just ‘being concerned about procedures’, some of it is about the law (often about the law of evidence).

        To answer your question, I think the answer lies in the history of the SSPCA. The police did not have to accept “giving up their work and power to the SSPCA” as the SSPCA has been enforcing animal welfare legislation since the passing of the Cruelty to Animals (Scotland) Act 1850. Professional police forces were formed in the first half of the 19th century, around the time when SSPCA was founded in 1839. The status of SSPCA inspectors in Scotland was different from that of RSPCA inspectors in England and Wales (who enforced the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822 and subsequent animal welfare statues): SSPCA inspectors were justice of the peace constables, so they had the same powers as police constables to enforce the Cruelty to Animals (Scotland) Act 1850 and they have been reporting cases to the procurator fiscal ever since. (You may have noticed though that there was pushback from Police Scotland when the Scottish Government was toying with the idea of extending the powers of SSPCA inspectors.)

        Individual inspectors of the SSPCA are currently authorised under section 49(2)(a) Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to enforce Part2 of that Act. RSPB Investigation Officers do not have to be “reduced to mere members of the public” by the police: they are in fact members of the public.* Problems can arise when a person investigates an offence, then also purports to act as expert witnesses. You can’t really be both as expert witnesses should be impartial and independent.

        You may have noted when reading the dossier that it is stated explicitly several times that no one wants to “exclude” the RSPB. My understanding was that the idea is to clarify the role of NGOs. A couple of years ago a senior police officer appeared to comment on scientific papers relating to birds of prey when giving evidence to the Justice Committee. He was later criticised that he doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to have an informed opinion on population estimates. I think the criticism was well deserved, but it goes both ways. I don’t think that anyone is doubting the RSPB’s expertise when it comes to birds, but the issue appeared to be that some of RSPB employees seemed to think that they are also experts in investigating crimes.

        I agree that the success rate of wildlife crime investigations is lamentable, but what some people apparently fails to appreciate is that knowing who committed an offence and gathering sufficient admissible evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that that person was the perpetrator are two distinct things.

        My view, for what it is worth, is that wildlife crime should be part of the mainstream policing and that it should be handled as most areas of criminal law: by professionals in consultation with and assisted by experts (including the RSPB). I also believe that the responsibility should lie with a Cabinet Secretary for Justice and not with a Cabinet Secretary for the Environment (or similar).

        —–

        *Although technically RSPB Scotland is an “investigating agency” for the purposes of Part 6 of the Scotland Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

        • April 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

          I don’t think i disagree with any of your post. The e-mails had very little detail so it is impossible to see what the RSPB were accused of except arrogance (although the police accusing anyone of arrogance is fitting for the date of this comment). It takes a certain amount of arrogance to fight for justice and i am very glad the RSPB came out fighting for the raptor’s corner. The e-mails i think do come under the heading of bias because this lack of detail comes over as mud slinging and extremely unprofessional. How does procedure cover vague accusations and personal attacks i.e. ‘arrogant’.
          You appear to have a deep knowledge of the law but even i can see that the law is open to interpretation. This is obvious from the number of cases which are successfully appealed and the differing acceptance of video evidence and fines etc. I would put money on the fox case last week getting successfully appealed. It is that grey human area that appears to be in the limelight.
          I don’t think anyone is saying that procedure should not be followed but Hunter appears to be obsessed with nothing else. The FOI request should have flagged up positive statements and a care for birds of prey but it doesn’t. It may have been cherry picked but a FOI request should show the whole result as far as i’m aware.
          I also don’t think anyone is saying that the RSPB should run investigations, except Hunter.
          There is also the two-faced issue. It is obvious from RSPB e-mails that they thought they had a friendly relationship with Hunter. This could be down to a certain amount of naivety but in my mind the image of the back stabbing is perfectly reasonable. It doesn’t show a man who can be trusted. The e-mails also showed a man who was extremely sensitive to criticism and a joke. Again not a trait of a man i would trust. So as you hint at it comes down to trust and i believe all his words about procedure in order to obtain results are hiding other motives. The most obvious is a desire to hold power and exclude anything that threatens it and a personal dislike of the RSPB and anyone who threatens his fragile ego.
          My query about the SSCA should have been more clear. I should have asked why the police didn’t want to give the SSPCA more powers. I think it demonstrates that is they who are arrogant. In the 60’s we use the word power trip and i think it is a major flaw with a lot of police (in the states it is even worse to the point that many think they have a right to kill at the slightest provocation and the UK is not immune from this).

  16. 32 Martin Sinclair
    March 31, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    The behaviour of NWCU and certain police officers is not unusual within within the police.
    Thankfully is it by and large outdated having been overtaken by a more modern forward thinking approach which accepts and relies upon partnership working.

    The old fashioned and outdated police approach of ” we are in charge ,it’s our ball and no one else is playing” is clearly a major factor here.

    I suspect that this has been permitted to continue in part because so few senior police officers understand or to a lesser degree see that investigating wildlife crime is really core police business. This has allowed inexperienced , small minded and police officers that are inexperienced in dealing with large scale, multinagency and often politically sensitive investigations.
    Lack of confidence, knowledge and the feeling of being found out has resulted in them excluding the very organisations with the expertise and resources to assist them.

    In areas where there has been noteable successes in wildlife crime, almost always involves a police officer who is going with their own instincts and working in close partnership with RSPB,SSPCA or RSPCA all of which have investigations units.

    Areas where wildlife crime is very high in particular the same estates that continue to commit large volumes of crime, most always have a police wildlife crime officers who is unwilling to partnership work and follows the direction of NWCU.

    Sadly officers that show the ability to achieve success usually have limited life span either being nobbled or leave to role frustrated. Many ex wildlife crime officers work with SSPCA investigations.

    In an attempt to improve and move forward why not consult with the NGO, s and get it from the horses mouth. Thereafter NWCU should agree to promote and facilitate joint working in a far more transparent environment.

    I suspect NWCU have a lot of work to do around regaining the trust of NGO,s and public in general.

  17. 33 Mike
    April 1, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    In my view the RSPB investigations team have done a fantastic job over the past 50years while I have followed events. The knowledge and expertise which they have is a fantastic resource which must be valued for what it is and carried forward.

    The police have simply never had that level of knowledge, the time to put into species protection and in many cases the will to follow up wildlife crime. It has been RSPB that the public have so often turned to, who have the background knowledge and the big picture of bird species protection. It is they who recognise the significance, put in the time and effort to take up these incidents, investigate them and work with the police to carry through to prosecution . There is no way that the police could dedicate the time and effort to follow investigations the like of which are carried out by RSPB. The level of specialist knowledge of both the birds and the wildlife criminals they are dealing with, the ability to work the hours in the range of locations and conditions. If it wasn’t being carried through by RSPB investigations team then the bulk would never happen.

    In recent years we have seen the under resourced NWCU supporting WCO’s throughout the police forces and there has been very good progress and some good results from dedicated some WCO’s supported by NWCU and it is obvious that clear operating procedures are needed as a framework for joint working of RSPB/police for best results and the avoidance of cock ups.

    Unfortunately, as I read it D.I. Hunter was not being very professional in how he sought to achieve this end. It is then only too easy to see this disfunctional partnership working being linked to the host of issues which we have placed at the police door when cases have not progressed and it is easy to believe our worst fears regarding the behind the scenes politics which hampers progress. This has done so much damage but will hopefully lead to the ironing out of problems and the rebuilding of trust, indeed that may be under way. It is fitting once again however that RPUK has brought this to our attention and opened our eyes to yet another facet.

    This is an historical matter mischeviously brought out now for malicious purposes. Trust in the police to play their part in the future partnership working is on the line. Other partners have already shown their true colours, time for some firm management of these partnerships as it is increasingly clear where things are lacking.

  18. 34 Ricky B
    April 1, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    The failings of the police and NWCU are well known to those involved in this field. Most incidents have been allowed to pass without being made public.

    I agree emails can be taken out of context or misinterpreted however their actions cannot.

    NWCU have for many years and continue to do so, exclude and marginalise NGO,s not only in cases involving raptor crime but wildlife crime in general i.e. badger baiting , finch trapping and CITES.

    To date NGO,s RSPCA SSPCA and RSPCA have largely continued regardless without going public.

    No one is arguing that experts have to be involved throughout all areas of an investigation however SSPCA have statutory powers and RSPCA take private prosecutions via an expert prosecutions department.

    NWCU,s reluctance to partnership work with these specialist organisations and their behaviour by advising police wildlife crime officers to do the same displays nativity and unprofessionalism which ultimately reduces the potential for successful enforcement.

    This is not case in other areas requiring specialist police involvement.

    Lets not pretend wildlife crime is highly political and often involves wealthy or influential landowners.

    It is perhaps interesting that police have a national priority for hare coursing, directing resource into protecting brown hares from persons entering land without permission, whilst there is little police involvement in the wholesale eradication of mountain hares often on estates with very serious levels of wildlife crime.

  19. 35 Jonathan Wallace
    April 2, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    “…arrogance, massive income and lack of accountability is a dangerous cocktail which politicians should address”

    – a rather neat description of You Forgot the Birds.


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