Despite legal protection, every year the RSPB receives over 500 reports of wild bird crime, with many more reported to the police and other agencies.
The RSPB's Investigations Section's main role is to support the statutory authorities by providing advice, expert witness and investigative help on wild bird crime.
It works closely with the police Wildlife Crime Officers (WCOs), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Procurators Fiscal and HM Revenue and Customs. The RSPB has not taken a private prosecution since 1992.
The RSPB actively supports the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) by chairing the Publicity Sub-group and sitting on the Forensic Working Group
The RSPB Investigations Section has been involved in a range of issues to improve wildlife law enforcement and has had many successes, for example:
- Creation of the police WCO network. The Section had a major input into the development and subsequent success of this network.
- Organising the police WCO annual conference. The Section organised the WCO conference every year since its inception in 1989 until handing it over to the police and Defra in 1997.
- Maintaining a unique wild bird crime database.
- Taking the first case involving DNA genetic fingerprinting of birds. In 1991 the RSPB used a commercial laboratory for DNA testing to prove a genetic link did not exist between four young goshawks and a captive adult female claimed to be their parent. Since then DNA testing has become established as an important tool in the investigation of wild bird offences.
- Production of Legal Eagle, a quarterly newsletter for police WCOs and others involved in wild bird law enforcement.
- Production of Birdcrime, an annual report that monitors trends in wild bird crime and highlights major issues of concern. This is the only national record of wild bird offences in the UK.
- Working in Europe. The Section was instrumental in forming the Eurogroup Against Bird Crime, which is a network of organisations across Europe that works to improve wild bird legislation enforcement, particularly in cases of cross-border offences.
How you can help
Have you seen a crime against a wild bird? Use this form to report a wildlife crime to us.
Our latest investigations
Buzzard poisoned in Peak District National Park
We have just issued the following press release: A protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned in one of the UK’s worst raptor persecution blackspots. In April 2019 a member of the public found a buzzard freshly dead in woodland near Tintwis...Posted 22/01/2020 by Jenny Shelton
2019... A review of the year by RSPB Investigations
We look back over the stand-out moments of 2019, from low points to positive steps. A huge thanks to all who have supported us in our mission to end raptor persecution. A golden eagle was photographed with a trap on its leg in August 2019 has been...Posted 19/12/2019 by Jenny Shelton
What the RSPB has done to combat raptor persecution
The RSPB is part of a Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), chaired by Chief Superintendent Nick Lyall. All partners in the group have been encouraged to submit a six-month return, highlighting what they have done to forward the aims of...Posted 29/11/2019 by Jenny Shelton
Red kite poisoned in Nidderdale
Today we have issued this press release regarding a red kite found poisoned in Nidderdale: A red kite in flight, c Tim Melling North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected red kite was found poisoned in an area ...Posted 28/11/2019 by Jenny Shelton