The NFU is working closely with other organisations and police forces to tackle poaching, and is a member of the Poaching Priority Deliver Group (E&W). An initiative of the group, Project Trespass, aims to coordinate action across England and Wales.
Identifying the problem
Poaching is a very serious issue, and affects several farmers and landowners up and down the country.
Poaching can lead to a number of animal welfare issues, serious loss of income from illegal taking of game and fish, as well as serious damage to crops and land.
Legislation changes - Existing
One of the issues surrounding poaching is that while it is a crime, it is not classed as a recordable offence by Home Office statistics, which means it is difficult to obtain accurate figures. Another concern is the amount of under-reporting of poaching and indeed other rural crime.
Project Trespass aims are to coordinate action across England and Wales through;
- Prevention – offering best advice to farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, shooting and land management organisations regarding measures to put in place to prevent poaching and disruption mechanisms
- Intelligence – to allow the police to target offenders
- Enforcement – with good intelligence the police can target poachers through the various rural and poaching based operations run throughout England and Wales
- Reassurance – by working together and by publicising resulting actions such as activity, arrests, seizures and convictions.
The initiative has seen public meetings held across the country involving partner agencies involved with the group, local police and members of the public living and working in the countryside.
The NFU has published web and magazine articles on what you should do if you see poachers on your land and the importance of reporting poaching, as well as other rural crime.
As part of plan to tackle poaching, the first national anti-poaching conference was held on 11th September 2014 in Staffordshire. Around 200 specialists – including wildlife crime officers from polices forces across Britain – attended the conference, organised by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.
What didn't work
Project Trespass was launched on 1st October 2013. The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) has undertaken a review of intelligence, numbers and types of convictions and other information received following the first six months of the project. Intelligence collated from across England and Wales by the NWCU increased from 44% to 55% for the total amount for wildlife crime received. Convictions increased from 10 over the period October 2013-March 2013 to 13 for the same period this year. A further 47 actions are still ongoing by Police forces and there are also 21 further pending court cases involving poaching cases.
More details and examples of good practice can be found here:
The Poaching Priority Deliver Group, with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, has also released the Project Poacher smartphone/tablet app allowing users to report poaching and wildlife crimes quickly and easily, read information about poaching offences and see the user’s location on a map to allow for more accurate police reports. The app can be found here:
The work of Poaching Priority Delivery Group (E&W) and Project Trespass is ongoing.