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
Shot red kite sadly euthanised
The stark contrast between the terrible actions of one human being and the kindness of another can sometimes knock you sideways. We see this a lot when dealing with incidents involving birds of prey that have been deliberately (and illegally) killed ...Posted 18/09/2018 by Jenny Shelton
Short-eared owl shooting - A tale of the unexpected
The one thing I really like about my job is the unexpected. It can be a bit inconvenient at times – but when certain jobs come in, you’ve got to drop everything if you’re to have a chance of securing that all-essential piece of evidence to bring a wi...Posted 28/08/2018 by Guy Shorrock
Spring traps and grouse moors - a bridge too far?
A range of environmental concerns have been raised about land intensively managed for driven grouse shooting and RSPB is calling for a licensing system to promote accountability and good practice. A recent incident has also highlighted concerns about...Posted 17/08/2018 by Guy Shorrock
Mapping raptor persecution in the UK
Sometimes the extent of a problem becomes much clearer once it’s visualised. Today, we’re very pleased to be launching the Raptor Persecution Map Hub – a set of online maps which we believe provide the most complete picture of known, confirmed raptor...Posted 16/08/2018 by Jenny Shelton