Early Day Motion 603 – please help protect the National Wildlife Crime Unit

By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Red Kite 13  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Red Kite 13 Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Red kites are ‘eating up lots of larks’ according to ‘real countryman’ Clive Aslet and our species has to intervene.

But at least the Countryside Alliance admits, when faced with the evidence of an almost complete lack of breeding hen harriers in England, and Bowland Betty’s shooting in northern England, that the odd case of gamekeepers bumping off hen harriers does exist.

Martin Harper did a good job putting the case for protected birds of prey on the Today programme yesterday (50 mins in).  Good for him!  I’m sure if he had had more time he might have asked for Defra and Natural England (for they are one and the same these days) to make public the locations of the ‘disappeared’ – satellite-tagged hen harriers whose tags stopped transmitting. The level of wildlife crime is completely unacceptable and should be opposed by government on behalf of us all – all except the criminals that is.

It is difficult to imagine that either of these ‘real country people’ will be writing to their MPs to ask for the funding threat to the National Wildlife Crime Unit to be lifted even though their radio broadcasts demonstrate clearly the need for it.  So do please contact your MP and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 603 as a contribution towards protecting birds of prey.

And good for Alan Hewit for setting up this epetition on the subject too.  Please sign it – and let’s hope that some major wildlife conservation organisations support it too.

We need to see an increase in resources being given to fighting wildlife crime.


43 Replies to “Early Day Motion 603 – please help protect the National Wildlife Crime Unit”

  1. I’ve contacted my MP but he seems not to have signed the EDM yet, I will sign the petition and encourage others to do both.
    Yes Aslet and Blackmore both showed why we need Wildlife crime to be kept high on the agenda and why we need the NWCU not only to continued to be funded at current levels but given more in the future.
    I thought Martin Harper could have done better as the science supports our case with a Future for the Hen Harrier and the conservation framework document on harriers, both of which Blackmore has attempted to rubbish in the past.
    The few Harriers that still run the gauntlet of keepers on grouse moors and the as yet unpoisoned Kites, Buzzards and Ravens demand we don’t let this one go so contact your MP and sign the petition.

  2. I’ve yet to find out if my Duncan Hames MP (Lib Dem) has signed EDM 603.
    When I rang his office they were unsure if he had (or would) put his name to it.
    I queried why he wouldn’t and deflected all talk of “perhaps we can email you-it’s more convenient!” and await a return phone call.

  3. A quick phone call back from Duncan Hames MP (Lib Dem) office reveals he will not sign EDM 603 as he is a PPS and it is the convention not to sign PPS’s.
    Apparently he will write me a letter-how gratifying!
    Whilst the MP for Chippenham Constituency claims to stand up for his constituents he obviously has little or no regard for wildlife.
    Voters note.

    1. John, Such a pity as I am aware that 2 buzzards were found dead in odd circumstances in that constituency this year, as they have in the past.

      James Gray of my area (North Wilts) hasn’t signed either (Nick Self – any response yet). That leaves the top half of Wiltshire without an MP putting a signature to this.

      1. Bob, they should all hang their collective heads in shame.
        We are in an area where the collective power base is Tory or Tory lite (Lib Dem) and landowners and “real country People” know best-outsiders don’t understand.
        To these people the killing of buzzards, etc., is justified by narrow field sport interests!
        Sad, but true.

  4. If people look at Mark’s previous blog on this subject they will see the comments have been polluted by a wildlife criminal bragging about his crimes.

    Can I suggest that everybody reports this man. He has even given his address!

    Mark could you confirm that you too have done so?

    It is completely unacceptable that people act in this manner.

    I have today ‘phoned Devon and Cornwall police pointing out the statements made and they have assured me they will take action. Clearly the more people that do the more likely they will.

    They can be contacted on 01392 420320.

    1. Was this post made tongue in cheek ? If not I do suggest that you read the guest blog that Giles wrote last year. https://markavery.info/2012/05/18/guest-blog-shoot-giles-bradshaw/

      I have some sympathy with his predicament, using dogs to flush deer out of an ancient woodland in order to protect coppice regrowth is not the same as hunting deer with dogs.

      Please leave the police to concentrate on tackling serious crime. Honestly!

    2. Christina
      I am not sure how carefully you have read Giles’ Bradshaw’s posts but – if I understand him correctly – what he does essentially is to shoo deer out of his woods with his dogs. According to his interpretation of the Hunting Act, what makes him a criminal is the fact that he does not then shoot the deer which are allowed to run away unharmed. The Hunting Act was brought in to outlaw the cruelty of running down a wild animal with dogs until it is cornered or exhausted and then allowing the dogs to tear it apart. I think what Giles claims to be doing is rather different to this and his ‘bragging’ about being a wildlife criminal is actually part of his personal campaign to highlight the deficiency in the way the Hunting Law has been drafted. He claims to be in favour of a law against cruelty to animals. Whether or not one agrees with his views (and personally I think he at least has a point) I don’t think that, on the basis of what he describes, he is engaged in the kind of activity that most people have in mind when they think of hunting with dogs or cruelty to wildlife. The fact that the Hunting Act may have been introduced with the best of intentions does not necesarily mean that it is good legislation or that it could not be improved.

      1. Thank you for that Jonathan. I just chase deer with dogs. There’s no harm in it. That was precisely my point.

      2. Christina, Just to back up Jonathan. I don’t think Giles Bradshaw is actually doing anything wrong but I am sure that (tongue in cheek) he is using this to highlight what he sees as deficiencies in the Hunting Act.

        1. That would be the RSPCA paramilitary thugs. I would round up any cats, dogs, sheep, cattle and take them to a place of safety before they arrive and start shooting.

          1. Any RSPCA come down my track and I’ll set the dogs on them; they love a bit of uniformed rump and it’d make a change from the postman.

  5. Mark,
    Still waiting for a reply from Michael Ellis MP on EDM 603, did sign e-petition. Funny how only 4 tories had signed the edm! Ever get the feeling of being ignored.

  6. Perhaps those MPs who won’t sign the EDM because – “it is the convention not to sign” might like to sign the epetition instead.

  7. I notice that my Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw hasn’t signed it yet. I best drop him a line, especially as all my fellow ‘countrymen’ neighbours in the Forest of Bowland wont be rushing to ask him. I cant possibly think why he wouldn’t want to add his name to it, Im sure like me he will be pleased to see wildlife crime a thing of the past in his constituency.

  8. After the last general election, my newly elected Conservative MP, Karen Bradley, informed me (by letter) and readers of her column in the local newspaper, that she won’t sign EDMs. She, along with (I believe) many other Conservative MPs, considers them to be a waste of time and money. But this does not stop you writing to your MP about any issue, including the Wildlife Crime Unit. I look at it this way – signing an EDM then letting the constituent know that they have signed it must be relatively easy for an MP, but getting a letter on a subject the have probably never thought about, then having to think about an answer and writing back to the constituent probably takes more effort on their behalf. So make them work for their constituents while they are in parliament – make them listen to the issues that bother you by persistently writing to them.

  9. Contacted my conservative MP Mark Menzies and asked him to sign. I will be very surprised if he does sign as Mark like many other conservative MP’s seem to forget they are appointed to Parliament to represent their constituents and not themselves.

  10. Have contacted my MP William Hague asking him to sign the EDM and the epetition. He did respond to my email regarding ‘Bowland Betty’ and the predicament of Hen Harriers, so fingers crossed.

  11. I will hold my hand up where William Hague is concerned Stephen. from what I have been told about the man he is a person of principle and keeps his word; a conservative exception rather than the rule.

  12. My MP it seems will not according to his reply sign the EDM all the guff about changes to policing with the new crime commissioners etc. They seem not to understand that this is a national issue and should be funded centrally not be dependent on the whim or otherwise of county crime commissioners. It needs long term guarantees of funding to work at its most efficient. William Hague will not sign it as he is a minister and the convention is they do not sign EDMs.

  13. I have attached details of the reply I received today from my MP, nothing has been changed. Interesting words, but they leave a lot to desired. Very disappointed because I do know from previous experience EDM’s can and do work.

    From Mark Menzies
    House of Commons
    8th January, 2013

    Dear Mr Pickford,

    Thank you for contacting me about the future of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and EDM 603.

    Early Day Motions (EDMs) are largely an ineffective way of holding the Government to account and therefore by convention I do not sign them. However, I will raise the issue with the relevant Ministers as it will be a more effective method.

    The Government is committed to tackling wildlife crime and fully supports law enforcement agencies who are working through Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime . The Government also recognises the important contribution of the NWCU, which offers advice for law enforcers on wildlife crime matters and coordinates activities to tackle the current UK wildlife crime priorities. The NCWU produces every six months a tactical assessment of progress against each of its priority work areas. This assessment is then considered by the UK Wildlife Tasking and Co-ordinated Group.

    As you may be aware, with the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners and the creation of a National Crime Agency, there are significant changes taking place in the broader policing landscape. The role played by the NWCU will evolve in accordance with these. Consequently, I understand from Ministers that decisions regarding Government funding for the NWCU beyond 2012-2013 will be taken later this year. It may be that it is better to let the new police and crime commissioners decide how best to allocate resources at a local level rather than providing specific central funding.

    On the wider issue, I strongly believe that any cruelty against any animals is deplorable, which is why I have called together for tougher sentences for people who deliberately harm animals. It follows a spate of offences in Fylde which left a number of cats severely injured and another which led to the death of another cat. I have now tabled a number of written questions in Parliament about the issue and I have had an overwhelming response from people on this issue from people who find this type of cruelty to animals absolutely despicable. I will continue to push forward the campaign on this issue.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important issue. If there is anything else I can do for you please feel free to get in contact with me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mark Menzies,
    Member of Parliament for Fylde.

    A very interesting but not too surprising response from at least one MP who seems to know little if anything about the ongoing plight of protected wildlife throughout England’s uplands. It is clear to see that at least Mark Menzies feels there may be more support for allowing our elected police commissioners to allocate funding resources at a local level rather than providing specific central funding to combat wildlife crime, this concerns me.

    Terry Pickford

    1. My reply, from Nadhim Zahawi, was almost identical to this, just a different last paragraph saying he never signs EDMs. So a standard reply has obviously been drafted. I wonder how many MPs don’t sign EDMs because it means raising their heads above the parapet?

    2. Identical to the reply we got Terry, I suspect its a long and polite way of saying no as we don’t want to upset our leadership. but I for one will not let this one go.

  14. “tougher sentences for people who deliberately harm animals … spate of offences … a number of cats severely injured … death of another cat … overwhelming response from people … who find this type of cruelty to animals absolutely despicable”

    Except when mass felicide is carried out by the RSPB because the population of this particular mammal was impacting negatively on other species. The law in this country loves precedents …

    1. Poisoning hundreds of fluffy little puss cats is fine Fibert – the RSPCA have sanctioned it,

    2. Although I do wonder is there not a breed of dog that would have been more suitable to use. Poison is generally a fairly slow and agonising death, I am sure a sufficiently powerful hound could do the job quicker and more humanely although I do accept there is the tree issue.

  15. I have signed the e petition and contacted my MSP. Crime is crime, intelligence is the lifeblood of crime investigation. The cost of the NWCU is negligible in context of the benefits they deliver in this respect. I would go further and have suggested funding should be mainstreamed and not subject to this periodic bidding process which simply serves to divert resources devoted to protection of wildlife into trying to future proof their own existence.

  16. I notice the claim from the CA that raptors in the British Isles are doing “incredibly well”. So that’s alright then!

    This must be some definition of ‘incredibly well’ that I don’t understand. Presumably the CA will soon be advising the government of Mauritius that they need to organise a cull of small flightless birds before they become overrun with them.

  17. Not much point Chris, it seems a trend from Conservative Mp’s not to sign EDM’s. I got my reply from Michael Ellis MP “EDM’s very rarely get debated in the HofC or any resolution or votes taken on them, therefore I see it a waste of money and time”, though apparently Michael is dead against “poaching and protecting wildlife” and will have a word with Mr.Benyon (insert sarcastic/wry smiley face here)

  18. Got my reply from Chi Onwurah (Newcastle Lab) today:
    “thank you for contacting me about the importance of securing future funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
    “I do appreciate the points you make about biodiversity as well as wildlife crime.
    “As a front bencher I cannot sign EDMs but I did take this up some weeks ago with the Minister and enclose a copy of his response”

    Benyon’s response says the Government is considering its response to the Env Audit Committee’s report and: “While I cannot give you any assurances about funding for the NWCU at this stage, I can say that we will come to a decision as soon as possible.”

    Sadly, I fear that, soon or not, the decision reached will not be the right one.

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