Despite legal protection, every year the RSPB receives over more than 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
Operation Owl: Fighting raptor crime in North Yorkshire
Operation Owl assembles in Helmsley, North Yorkshire RSPB staff took arms against the ongoing problem of raptor persecution in North Yorkshire last weekend as our Investigations team joined North Yorkshire Police on a mission known as ‘Operation Owl’...Posted 21/02/2018 by Jenny Shelton
In praise of the wildlife crusaders
People have just about had enough of raptor persecution. With hen harriers down to just a handful of pairs in England, and no peregrines breeding in the Dark Peak in 2017 for the first time since 1984, clearly something needs to be done. Newspapers a...Posted 09/02/2018 by Jenny Shelton
Marsh harrier persecution - North Yorkshire update
Back in August we reported on disturbing events at a marsh harrier nesting site on Denton Moor in North Yorkshire where a series of visits resulted in shots being fired, eggs being removed and the breeding attempt not surprisingly being unsuccessful....Posted 01/02/2018 by Guy Shorrock
Heavy sentences for Cyprus bird trappers
The problem with illegal bird trapping on Cyprus has been well documented with a long term involvement in this issue by RSPB, BirdLife Cyprus and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS). In the last few years there has been further profile raisin...Posted 19/01/2018 by Guy Shorrock