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Organisational Overviews: Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit
Author: PC John Bishop, Wildlife Crime Unit, Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit is responsible for upholding and enforcing the many laws protecting wildlife in the Greater London Area.
Policing an area which combines a large urban centre with extensive surrounding countryside inevitably means that the Unit deals with a wide range of wildlife crimes from the illegal persecution of Badgers and birds to the illegal international trade in endangered species from all over the world.
London is also home to some individuals who travel widely throughout the UK and abroad committing crimes against wildlife, and the Wildlife Crime Unit has to deal with many cases of egg collecting, and even live birds of prey like Peregrine Falcons and Goshawks which have been taken from the wild illegally elsewhere in the UK for the high value falconry market. The presentation will include examples of some of the many such cases which we have dealt with in the past.
London is also an international trading centre and there is an active illegal trade in endangered species here. Much of this comes in the form of derivatives from animals such as Tigers, Rhinos and Bears which are used in the manufacture of some traditional Chinese medicines, and in 1995 the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Charm, an initiative specifically against this trade. Operation Charm has led to the seizure of large quantities of manufactured products and raw materials such as Tiger bones, Rhino horns and Elephant tusks, and has resulted in the conviction of a number of traders in the courts.
Operation Charm now deals with all aspects of the endangered species trade from use of Shahtoosh (Tibetan Antelope wool) in the manufacture of high value woollen shawls to the continuing trade in ivory and reptile skins.
However, much of our day to day wildlife work involves our resident bird population. In the spring and summer each year we get many reports of damage to, or destruction of birds nests. The species involved are often wildfowl, and Swans, particularly, are often subject to attacks by vandals.
The Wildlife Crime Unit is based at New Scotland Yard and is comprised of the Mets Wildlife Liaison Officer and a small team of police officers who have been appointed to deal with wildlife offences in their local areas. Each of these officers undertake their wildlife work in addition to their other policing duties so our resources are limited.
The Wildlife Crime Unit, as its name suggests, deals with crime. We are not a animal welfare organisation and we are not able to deal with reports of injured birds or animals where no crime has been committed, but please do contact us if you need to report wildlife offences.
Mr Andy Fisher
Tel: 0171 230 3641
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