Frustrated by the lack of action on raptor persecution? Disappointed by the small number of prosecutions and the number of crimes that go unpunished? Well that situation could get a whole lot worse in the coming months as what little resources are available specifically to combat wildlife crime in the form of the National Wildlife Crime Unit may fall foul of government cuts.
Reported in The Independent today the Home Office are yet to sign off on the £136,000 of funding that is it's share of the overall unit's cost throwing its existence beyond 31 March into doubt. This amount of funding is a tiny, insignificant sum in the grand scheme of UK Plc but the existence of the NWCU does make a difference to the protection of our wildlife and to the chances of those responsible for crimes against it been brought to justice.
Failure to fund the unit will send a message to the criminal elements within the shooting and game industries that they almost have a free hand in bucking the law when it comes to their dealings with birds of prey. The consequences of this will be akin to the position on Hunting with Dogs where the police are largely ineffective and individual hunts operate almost with impunity. It may be too late to save English Hen Harriers but there are many other birds of prey that will suffer if these individuals think there is even less chance of getting caught than currently. Removal of this rather trivial sum of money will open the door to many more abuses of our birds of prey and wildlfe.
This government has shown however that faced with enough protest it will back down, events can be influenced and it is not too late to influence the Home Office decision on this funding. The nights are still dark, write some letters. Start with your MP, if he/she hasn't signed this Early Day Motion calling on the government to recognise the importance of the NWCU and commit to maintain at least its current level of funding. Next up write to Theresa May at the Home Office and let her know how important you consider this issue. You can send emails to - firstname.lastname@example.org or the traditional route by writing to - Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF. If your desperately short of time the kind folks at IFAW have even done it for you, should take about 2 minutes of your time.
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