27
Oct
20

Peregrine fatally poisoned in Barnsley: South Yorkshire Police appeal for information

Press release from South Yorkshire Police (26 October 2020)

Information sought following the poisoning of a protected bird

Officers investigating reports of a bird of prey being deliberately poisoned are appealing for your help to find those responsible.

On Saturday 4 July officers found a juvenile peregrine falcon in ill health in the Fish Dam Lane area of Barnsley, the bird sadly died a short time later.

[The poisoned peregrine, photo via South Yorkshire Police]

Initial assessment of the bird indicated that it could have been poisoned. Following a forensic examination by the Wildlife Investigation Scheme it has now been confirmed that the bird had been poisoned with Bendiocarb, a highly toxic substance.

Peregrine falcons are protected under Sec1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Investigating Officer PC Fran Robbs De La Hoyde said: “It is believed the poisoned peregrine falcon ingested bait laced with the poison which was deliberately set out to target the bird.

There is nothing to suggest that this bait was laid in open land.

This was a deliberate act that caused the death of a beautiful and protected bird. I am saddened by this and I am asking for your help to bring those responsible to justice.”

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “It’s always a privilege to catch a glimpse of a peregrine. The fastest birds in the world, they are highly adaptable creatures and often make their homes in urban areas these days.

Bendiocarb is one of the most commonly-abused substances for killing birds of prey and we have sadly seen it used for this purpose on many occasions. It is illegal to kill these birds, and we urge anyone with information to come forward.”

Poisons commonly used to commit a crime like this are incredibly toxic to humans and pets. Should any person locate any dead or injured birds they are strongly advised not to touch them or let pets come into contact with them.

If you have any information that can help officers please call 101 and quote crime reference number 14/104692/20.

Alternatively, you can stay completely anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers via their website Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling their UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.

SYP are committed to the investigation of serious wildlife offences, including the poisoning of birds of prey.

ENDS

UPDATE 17 November 2020: Police raid property in poisoned peregrine investigation (here)


21 Responses to “Peregrine fatally poisoned in Barnsley: South Yorkshire Police appeal for information”


  1. 1 Rob Sheldon
    October 27, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Yet another belated call for the public’s help – how many people can recall what they were doing 115 days ago, let alone any specific details that would be able to help in a case such as this?

    • 2 Dougie
      October 27, 2020 at 11:02 am

      Yes – 4 months lost. What a farce !

    • 3 Keith Dancey
      October 27, 2020 at 11:16 am

      What would you have done?

      • 4 John L
        October 27, 2020 at 12:42 pm

        The blog states – “Initial assessment of the bird indicated that it could have been poisoned”
        Yet again the police have failed to get out a witness appeal at a time when events were still fresh in a potential witnesses mind.

        The College of Policing in its publications on investigations advises the following-

        “The detection of a large proportion of offences can be attributed to information, intelligence and evidence provided by the public. It is important that investigators recognise this and take action to identify and locate witnesses at the earliest available opportunity”.

        Is 4 months after the event the earliest opportunity?

        If at the time of the initial reporting of this incident there was evidence to suggest the peregrine had been poisoned- then why not put out a media witness appeal stating that the bird had been found in suspicious circumstances and the police were appealing for witnesses to any suspicious activity to come forward?

        This lack of early witness appeals and the potential loss of witness evidence is becoming a factor in so many police investigations reported on this blog. The question is why?

        Are the supervisors of wildlife officers conducting timely reviews of the investigations to ensure all investigations are conducted in a thorough and expeditious manner?

        Every investigation is different, but the initial phase of an investigation should include fast track actions to ensure all sources of potential evidence are identified and preserved.

        Witness evidence is vital to most police investigations- so are the police in their wildlife investigations including this in their investigation strategy? – and why aren’t they identifying witness identification as a fast track action?

        I may be being a bit unfair to the police, but to appeal for witnesses four months after the incident doesn’t instill me with confidence that wildlife crimes are being treated with importance they deserve.
        Could it also be an indication that police wildlife officers aren’t being given thorough investigative training in addition to their specialist wildlife training?

        It’s only when offenders are brought to justice and properly punished will this scourge of raptor persecution
        end.

        • 5 Keith Dancey
          October 27, 2020 at 1:07 pm

          It was not the Police who are quoted as saying “Initial assessment of the bird indicated that it could have been poisoned”. I think the Police will wait for firm evidence. But, maybe you are right and that we should press for official procedures to be changed for targeted species?

      • 6 Spaghnum Morose
        October 27, 2020 at 12:48 pm

        If I were the Police? I would have kept it quiet (if possible) and then over the following few mornings at dawn, walked discreetly around all the local allotments with pigeon lofts in the area and looked on all their rooves for dead racing pigeons probably tied on with wire. But I accept the police do not have the manpower to do this. Having probably drawn a blank with this, then I would have publicised it widely on facebook, etc without delay.

      • 7 Dougie
        October 27, 2020 at 1:54 pm

        That has been mentioned many times on here. Quite simple really.
        Immediate publicity along the lines of a bird has been found in circumstances that suggest it was poisoned using a substance that may also be extremely dangerous to people and animals. Then follow that opener with the appeal for help.

        • 8 Paul V Irving
          October 27, 2020 at 4:14 pm

          Immediately the publicity starts the poisoner(s) have got rid of the poison, that is the quandary the police have.

          • 9 Dougie
            October 27, 2020 at 6:01 pm

            Remember – we are not dealing idiots.
            We are dealing with criminals (low cunning). They know that the police MAY turn up PDQ therefore they know to stash the evidence away.
            Also, the criminals may not be local, but may come from afar and be paid by intermediaries.
            One would think that the police would realise that after years and years of delaying before going public that the result is, almost always, the same ……… failure. (Very strange when people keep doing the same thing that keeps producing the same predictable unsatisfactory result.)

          • 10 John L
            October 27, 2020 at 6:52 pm

            Paul
            I am not sure if publicity is the main issue here.

            Most wildlife offenders who use poison will have it hidden, and so probably aren’t too concerned that it will be discovered, even if the crime they have committed receives some immediate media exposure.

            The main issues regarding poisons, or other evidence, are the powers the police have in relation to searching and seizure of that evidence.

            Whilst the Countryside and Wildlife Act (WCA ) provides police constables with the following powers:

            Under section 19(1) WCA 1981 a constable who has reasonable cause to suspect that any person is committing/has committed an offence under Part 1 (wildlife) WCA may:

            Stop and search that person
            Search and examine anything which that person may be using or have in his or her possession if the constable reasonably suspects that evidence of the offence may be found there;
            Seize and detain anything which may be evidence of an offence or liable to be forfeited under section 21 WCA 1981.

            Whilst these powers deal with a suspect identified by the police, it doesn’t provide the police with powers to search buildings or premises controlled by the suspect, places where poisons may be hidden.

            However this power to search premises is covered later in the Act, but only by applying to a magistrate for a search warrant.-

            Under section 19(3) WCA 1981 a justice of the peace who is satisfied by information on oath that any offence under Part 1 WCA 1981 has been committed may grant a search warrant to a constable to enter upon and search premises for the purpose of obtaining evidence relating to that offence.

            What the police appear to be lacking is a power to search premises immediately after a suspect has been identified and arrested.

            The part of police search powers under Sect 32 PACE which relate to searching a premises, only apply to indictable offences.

            Sect 18 PACE also provides the police with powers to search premises after a suspect has been arrested, but again they are only applicable to indictable offences.

            As wildlife crimes are not indictable offences then neither of these sections of PACE provide the police with the necessary powers to immediately search premises for any hidden poison.

            Whilst the police could after arrest, apply to a magistrate for a search warrant . This then raises the issue of whether during the time it takes to apply for a warrant and execute it, could an accomplice have the time to move or dispose of any relevant evidence?
            As a suspect arrested for wildlife crimes can not be held incommunicado and is entitled to have someone notified of their arrest, then this affords ample opportunity for any accomplice to dispose of any poisons or other incriminating evidence.

            I believe there needs to be some reform to the legal powers the police have in relation to searching and seizure of evidence in respect of wildlife crimes, especially in relation to those crimes involving some of our most valuable and rare wildlife.

            However I also believe that it is vital police have a robust witness and media strategy from the outset of any investigation, and unless there are compelling reasons not to, an early media appeal to the public may help with witness identification, which in turn could help with the identification of potential suspects.

            So, it is disappointing to see police press appeals coming out months after a crime has been committed, when the events will no longer be fresh in a witnesses mind, and potential suspects will have long been forgotten.

            • 11 Keith Dancey
              October 28, 2020 at 12:19 pm

              “As wildlife crimes are not indictable offences then neither of these sections of PACE provide the police with the necessary powers to immediately search premises for any hidden poison.”

              I think this is the nub of the problem: wildlife crimes are not considered serious enough by (any) Parliament to become indictable. I believe this would also release more Police resources. Perhaps we should be also be campaigning for much tougher sentences for targeted wildlife crimes?

  2. 12 Ian Hopkins
    October 27, 2020 at 11:23 am

    I am a bit puzzled by the sentence “There is nothing to suggest that this bait was laid in open land” Am I being cynical, or is this a sop to the shooting lobby?

  3. 14 Jill Willmott
    October 27, 2020 at 11:38 am

    I would expect it is partly due to the Covid Effect, but that doesn’t help the birds, unfortunately.

  4. 15 Dougie
    October 27, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you to John L for posting ;-
    “The College of Policing in its publications on investigations advises the following-

    “The detection of a large proportion of offences can be attributed to information, intelligence and evidence provided by the public. It is important that investigators recognise this and take action to identify and locate witnesses at the earliest available opportunity”.

    I thought that there would be something in print within the police organisation along those lines. It is basic common sense.
    I wonder how the police would react if someone meandered in to a police station to report the theft of e.g. a power tool 4 months after the event. “Not much we can do about that, sir”, I expect.

    If a member of the public found a bird and feared it had been poisoned, but did not report it PDQ, then a child became a victim and died there would be a witch hunt. The press would pillory anyone who was linked to not triggering alarm bells.

  5. 16 Mobo
    October 27, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Forgive me if I seem naive but how do these killers get legal access to Bendiocarb. ? Do they have to sign a “Poisons Book” ? If so, who in the locality has bought some and for what given reason ? That might be a start to finding who is responsible but, if past experience is anything to go by, nothing will be done about them or their “owners”.

  6. 20 Gareth Huw Lewis
    October 27, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    I agree with many of the comments made above. For goodness sake -the people who carry out these crimes are by definition despicable and dangerous criminals who have no regard for our beautiful wild creatures or indeed for that matter for humans and their pets who are of course also at risk-without being too unreasonable, I would suggest the pigeon “fancier’ brigade and their henchmen are behind this latest episode of poisoning of a Peregrine falcon. They do not strike me as a particularly bright lot and I am sure that the Police can outwit them and catch them and the courts could prosecute and imprison them-that is the only thing that will force them to join the real world

    Yes-the Police surely have to be far more proactive-it really does look to me like a tick box exercise when they ask for witnesses to come forward so long after this despicable crime has been committed-come on police and judiciary-you are quite capable of catching these criminals but for goodness sake-this needs to happen quickly!


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