There is growing concern that funding problems may result in Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) being axed.
The NWCU is a national police unit that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides investigative support to police services. Defra has agreed its own share of the funding, but the Home Office has yet to sign off the £136,000 required to ensure the unit’s survival. There are fears it may fall foul of the 20 per cent cuts in police budgets being implemented by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
More than 100 MPs have already signed an early day motion calling on the Government to secure the future of the NWCU, which combats everything from rhino-horn theft and illegal trade in reptiles to persecution of birds of prey. The unit, whose funding runs out on 31 March, has been busier than ever in the last few months. Wildlife crime of all types is rapidly growing across the world, with elephant and rhino poaching hitting new highs last year.
The Badger Trust said it is very concerned and has called on its supporters to both sign a petition and write to their MP, asking for their support. The RSPB is also backing the unit. Spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “With the future of some birds of prey hanging in the balance, it’s imperative that the NWCU itself has a secure future.”