Tag Archives: NWCU

Wildlife crime fighters saved by new funding

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Good news! Government Ministers have confirmed that the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) will be fully funded in 2013.

The Home Office and Defra have committed £136,000 each for the next financial year, securing the future of the unit. The current funding arrangement was due to run out at the end of March.  No decisions have been taken for funding the unit beyond 31 March 2014.

NWCU is at the forefront of the UK’s fight against the growing illegal wildlife trade. Through effective intelligence-led enforcement, it targets key criminals engaged in serious and organised crime.

Announcing the funding, Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “Wildlife crime is a very serious issue with organised gangs using the proceeds from illegally traded items like rhino horn to fuel other illegal activities. It’s right that a specialist unit supports the police in bringing these people to trial.”

The unit has been instrumental in  combating the illegal trade in rhino horn, which now has a blackmarket value in Asia as high as gold.

RSPB Conservation Director, Martin Harper, welcomed the announcement, saying: “The continued support for the unit is great news. The illegal killing of birds of prey is threatening the security of some species, with the hen harrier facing imminent extinction in England as a nesting species. The unit is a vital part of the UK’s fight against wildlife crime, and we’re relieved these crime fighters have been given a further year to provide the protection our wildlife deserves.”

Wildlife crime unit faces extinction over cutbacks

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.”