Following the success of Project Trespass*, the scheme has been relaunched as Project Poacher at the recent UK Wildlife Crime Enforcers’ Conference.
Project Poacher is made up of two key elements; advice and support for law enforcers and a free, easy-to-use app for reporting poaching incidents.
The app is available to download at www.projectpoacher.com
Project Poacher will continue 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. Magazine articles have been written to raise understanding and encourage the reporting of poaching incidents. Police forces have taken direct action running anti-poaching operations gathering intelligence and targeting offenders.
The NWCU has undertaken a review of intelligence, numbers and types of convictions and other information received following the first six months of the project. The results are staggering. Intelligence collated from across England and Wales by the NWCU increased from 44% to 55% for the total amount for wildlife crime received.
As a result, some forces have initiated very effective anti-poaching operations. An example of this is Lincolnshire police’s Operation Galileo which saw 186 people dealt with in the courts in 2012. The operation recommenced again to coincide with the peak of the illegal hare coursing activities and is also being implemented by other East Anglian forces.
The Poaching Priority Delivery Group (Scotland)
The group in Scotland does similar work. It is led by John Bruce from the British Deer Society and BASC is represented by Colin Shedden, who is the lead on the Prevention in Scotland.
Importance of reporting poaching
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. This means it is difficult to obtain accurate figures. Another concern is the amount of under-reporting of poaching and indeed other rural crime. It is therefore important that we act as one to combat poaching and rural crime therefore reporting all incidents.
What to do if you have poachers on your land
If you see or are aware of poachers on your land/permission and want them off, call the police. Only you can decide whether this is a 999 or a 101 call (101 is the non-emergency number to report incidents). If you are being threatened or damage is being caused, then that is urgent and 999 should be used. Give the call taker as much information as you have, such as vehicles used, how many offenders, do they have firearms, etc. Also, you will need to give as good a location as you can, especially at night. However, the most important thing is to get an incident or log number for what you are reporting.
You might be told that there is nobody to send immediately, but insist on the incident/log number. Ask for the incident to be forwarded to the Wildlife Crime Officer and the local beat officer. It is a good idea to do this whether police attend or not. Tell the call taker that this is a wildlife crime and needs to be recorded as such. This last point makes it easier to monitor the number of poaching offences and, hence, the true picture will emerge