A conservation organisation and a police force have worked together to deliver training on a priority area of wildlife crime to officers from four forces.
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership worked with Durham Constabulary to co-host a training event aimed at raising awareness of crimes against birds of prey. Over 20 officers from four forces – Durham, Northumbria, Cumbria and North Yorkshire – attended the event. They heard presentations from the AONB Partnership, the Northern England Raptor Forum, the RSPB investigations team and North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force. The officers learned how to recognise raptor crime, including illegal trapping, nest disturbance, poisoning or shooting wild birds.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “It is important to give police officers the knowledge and confidence to deal with raptor crimes. Some parts of the North Pennines AONB have become something of a hotspot for this type of crime in the last ten years. Raising awareness among police officers and the public is an important step in stamping this out.”
Inspector Ed Turner from Durham Constabulary said “This was a great opportunity to share experiences and knowledge across the policing teams and partners that cover the Northern Pennines. I was impressed by the positivity, professionalism and desire of all involved to tackle this ongoing issue.”
The event was supported by staff from Raby Estate, who led a field visit to train officers on recognising illegal and legal traps. John Wallis, Durham Estates Manager for Raby Estates, said: “We were only too pleased to support this initiative. Partnership working and closer collaboration will be vital if we are to overcome wildlife crime and other challenges in the northern uplands.”
This training was part of Operation Owl, the name for the national police operation against raptor crime. An Operation Owl awareness raising weekend is being held on 21 and 22 September, and activity will be taking place in 25 police force areas across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Superintendent Nick Lyall is the Chair of the England & Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, a body set up by Defra to tackle the illegal persecution of birds of prey. Nick said: “The ongoing persecution of our birds of prey is an issue that I am delighted partners are supporting me to address. This partnership approach to building key relationships on the ground while training Police Wildlife Crime Officers on how to investigate criminality is a vital part of tackling the issue.”
For more information visit https://www.operationowl.com