Following on from our recent open letter to South Yorkshire Police (SYP) about their approach to tackling Wildlife Crime, we have received several encouraging replies from Chief Inspector Mark James, who is the Force Lead for Wildlife and Rural Crime.
The response includes:
- A commitment by SYP to take part in Operation Owl: the wildlife crime awareness raising
campaign, that will take place on 21st – 22nd September. Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust will also be supporting Operation Owl and have offered to work alongside SYP for this – we look forward to seeing their approach and how they take this campaign forward.
- A commitment by SYP to engage with the Upland Skies National Lottery Heritage Funded project currently in development. Through this project there plan to be further opportunities to raise awareness about our local birds of prey and how to recognise, record and report wildlife crime.
- Confirmation that 40 Wildlife Crime Officers have been trained in the last 2 years by SYP with a further commitment to training another 25 this September. *NB these are not dedicated Wildlife Crime Officers*
- Some limited information about wildlife crime figures, mainly from Operation Dunlin, which covers rural crime more generally e.g. farm thefts, including diesel, gates, stock. We have asked for further data on wildlife crime cases specifically.
- A further commitment to complete a systems review to ensure that the public, when reporting wildlife crime, is responded to appropriately. And an acknowledgement by the police in their own Wildlife Crime internal literature that this type of crime appears to be on the increase and that a lack of response by, and confidence in SYP has probably led to under reporting in the past – and this needs to change.
- A further re-iteration by the Chief Constable of SYP’s continued commitment to tackling Wildlife Crime and ‘enforcing any relevant legislation where an opportunity to do so presents itself’.
- An invitation for the Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust to participate in the SYP wildlife crime conference in October.
Liz Ballard, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Chief Executive said,
“Inevitably, we will only know if the commitments and improvements proposed have had any affect when local people and organisations tell us they feel they are being listened to and getting the right response from the police, and when the statistics show an increase in the reporting of wildlife crime and an appropriate result. The Trusts offers our support to SYP and we hope they will become a leading Force for tackling wildlife crime.”
We ask the public to feel confident about contacting the police or ourselves about wildlife crime
– to find out more about recognising and reporting wildlife crime see here.
Please also support Operation Owl’s annual awareness raising campaign on 21 st – 22nd September through social media and related events. See here for more information.