How much can you achieve in eighteen months if you’re focussed enough and sharp enough? If you’re ‘Wild Justice’, our absolute favourite trio of wildlife crime fighters (ie Drs Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay and Chris Packham MBE), one heck of a lot – from judicial reviews to speaking at national events to (now) launching a fund to help tackle an issue close to the hearts of all concerned: forensic testing in wild raptor crime investigations.
To quote Ruth Tingay on Raptor Persecution UK, “This fund was first proposed in April 2020 after discussions with a number of Police wildlife crime officers who were frustrated that funding cuts and delayed decision-making was impacting on their efforts to submit evidence for forensic testing in suspected cases of bird of prey persecution.
Several months on the fund has just launched this week with funding provided by Wild Justice, Northern England Raptor Forum, Tayside & Fife Raptor Study Group and a number of individuals.
The Raptor Forensics Fund will be administered solely by the PAW Forensics Working Group and guarantees funding support to police officers and other statutory agencies (e.g. SSPCA) to cover the cost of x-rays and post-mortems in the early stages of investigations and then potentially more funding to cover the full cost of further forensic analysis once a crime has been confirmed.”
Fantastic organisation, fantastic initiative. And if the shooting industry start squawking, they should bear in mind that it’s partly their own ‘wilful blindness’ on raptor persecution that will have led to this fund being set up…
Earlier this year we proposed a new fund to help the police tackle wildlife crime. The idea was that this fund would help speed up the analysis and assessment of forensic evidence in wildlife crime investigations relating to the illegal killing of birds of prey, where police budgetary and resource constraints were impacting on the progression of potential criminal investigations (see here).
This week we’re delighted to announce the launch of the new Raptor Forensics Fund, which has a very healthy initial budget of £10K. These funds have been donated by Wild Justice, Northern England Raptor Forum, Tayside & Fife Raptor Study Group and a number of individuals who wish to remain anonymous.
The Raptor Forensics Fund will be administered solely by the PAW Forensic Working Group (a sub-group of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime) and is open to any regional or national statutory agency in the UK, specifically to support forensic testing in wild raptor crime investigations.
The fund will support investigations in two ways:
Support for early investigations
We anticipate this fund will be most useful in circumstances where there is suspicion of a crime but insufficient evidence to meet the criteria required to submit a carcass for Government testing. To prevent any delay in progressing an incident, which could also involve a live injured bird of prey, immediate access to funds of up to £200 will be granted for x-rays and post mortems as long as the investigating officer submits case details to the PAW Forensics Working Group (FWG) within 24 hours.
If initial forensic costs are estimated to exceed £200 (e.g. there are multiple birds), officers must first receive approval from the FWG before work begins.
Support for criminal investigations
Once it has been established that a crime has been committed, a criminal investigation can proceed. Additional evidence that may have been recovered with the dead birds or during follow-up enquiries may require forensic testing. Investigators are encouraged to discuss forensic options with the FWG and apply for subsequent funding which, if approved by FWG, will be 100% recoverable from the Raptor Forensics Fund.
Detailed specifics about the availability of the new Raptor Forensics Fund are currently being prepared by the PAW Forensic Working Group and will be distributed to the Police Wildlife Crime Network imminently. The FWG website will also highlight the fund and provide information about how officers can apply for funding support.
Thank you to those who have provided donations for this new fund and thank you to the PAW Forensics Working Group for its willingness to administer the funding applications. We look forward to seeing the money being put to good use to help bring the raptor-killing criminals to court.Wild Justice, Raptor Forensics Fund opens with £10K, 11 October 2020