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Surge in wildlife crime while offenders are let off the hook

August 20, 2009 3:50 PM

Coot out of water.Figures uncovered by South Lakes MP Tim Farron show that wildlife crime is on the rise, with thousands of incidents reported in the first half of 2009.

Despite this, very few people are actually being prosecuted.

The Government set up a new unit in 2007 to tackle wildlife crime, but it has not given the unit the resources needed or enabled it to work efficiently with local police forces to get results.

Information released to Mr Farron in a Parliamentary answer shows:

• 3,064 wildlife crimes reported from January-July 2009, compared with 3,514 reported in the whole of 2008.

• Whilst 1,658 wildlife crimes were reported from April-December 2007, just 88 people were prosecuted for wildlife crimes in the whole of 2007, 56 of whom were found guilty.

• Crimes that have seen serious increases include: habitat destruction; nest destruction; poaching and wild egg stealing.

The Liberal Democrats recently published Our Natural Heritage: Policies on the Natural Environment, which includes proposals to clamp down on wildlife crime with stronger penalties and stricter enforcement.

Commenting, Mr Farron, who is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary said:

"The low priority given to enforcing our wildlife laws is letting offenders off the hook.

"Whilst Labour postures as a champion of the environment, a failure to direct resources properly could threaten the survival of rare species.

"We need proper enforcement and stronger penalties to clamp down on criminals that are getting away scot free."

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