COMMONS

Government rejects key recommendations for tackling wildlife crime

18 March 2013

The Environmental Audit Committee has today published the Government Response to its Third Report of Session 2012-13: Wildlife Crime. The Government has rejected calls from MPs to give funding certainty for the critically important National Wildlife Crime Unit, and will not be banning possession of the main poison used to kill birds of prey

The Government has rejected calls from MPs to give funding certainty for the critically important National Wildlife Crime Unit, and will not be banning possession of the main poison used to kill birds of prey.

Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Joan Walley MP, said:

"The Government has missed an opportunity to take two simple measures to protect important wildlife threatened by poachers and criminals in the UK.

It has failed to follow Scotland’s lead in criminalising possession of carbofuran - the main poison used to kill birds of prey. And it has refused  to provide the long-term financial certainty that the National Wildlife Crime Unit needs, only making money available for the next 12 months.

It's good news that the Government will watch how well the 'vicarious liability' law works in Scotland, making landowners responsible for what happens on their estates. But the Government should also look at how well the tougher law in Scotland acts as a deterrent, not simply how many convictions there are there."

The Environmental Audit Committee recommended in October 2012 a range of measures to help tackle international poaching and trade in elephant ivory and other animal products, and to improve the way wildlife crime is tackled in the UK. It wanted, for example, a change of focus for tackling illegal international trade away from the market in south-eastern Asian 'traditional medicine' towards addressing the 'status' purchasing of animal products. The Committee’s recommendations included:

  • Criminalising the 'possession' - not just the use - of the poison 'carbofuran', to make it easier to secure bird poisoning convictions;
  • Introducing an offence of ‘vicarious liability’ to make landowners responsible for wildlife crimes on their land
  • Providing long-term Home Office and Defra funding to the National Wildlife Crime Unit, which sets strategy across all of the agencies involved in the UK
  • Tightening up the recording of wildlife crime data to help keep track and tackle trends in wildlife crime.

The Government has rejected these recommendations, though it has accepted others, as is shown in the Government Response to the Committee’s report published today.

Further Information

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