Report – who to report a wildlife crime to
Become ‘eyes in the field’ and report the crime we see! If we don’t report wildlife crime, how will it ever be tackled?
Reporting a wildlife crime (or even a suspected wildlife crime) is important for two reasons. If the event is still happening it may enable the authorities to catch the criminals ‘in the act’ (which means a higher chance of prosecution), and if the event is over a report can still help to build up a more accurate picture of what might be happening in a specific location or across the country as a whole.
Event or crime/suspected crime still taking place?
If you witness a wildlife crime taking place (or someone is at risk of getting injured or being threatened) call 999 immediately and ask for the police. When you call the police ask to speak to a Wildlife Crime Officer and make sure to get an Incident Report number.
Do not approach suspects yourself (they may be violent or be carrying firearms).
If you’ve not already done so have a look at our ‘How to Record a wildlife crime‘ page, but in brief when you call the police try to give them information on:
- What is happening
- The exact location (a map reference or local landmark can be useful)
- Who is involved (e.g. number of people, clothing worn, tools being carried, number and breed of any dogs being used)
- The make, colour and registration number of any vehicle
- Whether or not you have photos which may be used as evidence
Please always follow their advice, and ask for an incident reference number and for a Wildlife Crimes Officer to be made aware.
Event or crime/suspected crime no longer taking place or historic?
If there is so no immediate danger or urgent requirement for the police to be present, then please do NOT call 999 (which is an emergency number only).
Our options are wider if the event is over, and while we would recommend that all crimes are reported to the police you may prefer to talk first to a charity or NGO to get advice.
Contacting the police:
If you would like to talk to the police ring 101 or your local police station.
Alternatively use the links below to go to the wildlife crime page on the website of your local force (if your force is not listed they may not currently have a WCO):
Avon & Somerset Constabulary
Devon & Cornwall Police
Dyfed Powys Police
Greater Manchester Police
Isle of Man Police
North Wales Police
North Yorkshire Police
Police Service of Northern Ireland
South Yorkshire Police
Thames Valley Police
West Yorkshire Police
(Information from the National Wildlife Crime Unit and used with permssion)
If you would prefer to get advice before contacting the police:
Crimestoppers (an independent charity) can be contacted in complete confidence on 0800 555 111
The RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA also deal with wildlife crime and other animal welfare issues (such as dog fighting). They can be contacted 24 hours a day and may be able to attend an ongoing wildlife crime if police aren’t available to do so
- RSPCA: 24-hour national cruelty and advice line 0300 1234 999
- Scottish SPCA: Animal Helpline 03000 999 999
- USPCA (Northern Ireland): Animal Information Line 028 3025 1000, caller ID required
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have an Investigations Team that covers the UK. If you would like to report a wildlife crime to the RSPB please go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx
Or phone 01767 680551 (England) or 0131 317 4100 (Scotland) – out of hours mobiles 07603 241452 or 07885 255830
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) have an Investigations Team and a 24 hour phone line. If you would like to report a wildlife crime to LACS call the Wildlife Crimewatch line on 01483 361 108 or go to http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=122&ea.campaign.id=12419
The Scottish-based charity OneKind runs Snare Watch (http://www.snarewatch.org/) an information-sharing and reporting facility to collect information about snare use in the UK. To report a snare go to http://www.snarewatch.org/report-a-snare
When thinking about reporting a crime it’s worth noting that only the police have statutory powers to make an arrest. RSPCA and RSPB investigation officers etc work with the police for successful prosecutions.
Police officers have wide powers where they have reasonable grounds to suspect an offence. These include powers to stop and search, enter premises, and seize evidence. The police need a warrant to enter premises used as a dwelling (i.e. a home) without consent, unless it is to make an arrest (for more serious, “indictable”, offences) or where a person is already under arrest.
The powers of other investigators are more limited. A Wildlife Inspector may enter premises other than a dwelling, taking a veterinary surgeon if necessary, but only for the purposes of investigating an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Similarly, an Animal Welfare Inspector who has reason to believe that an animal to which the Animal Welfare Act applies is suffering or likely to suffer, may also enter premises other than a dwelling. The inspector must, if asked, produce evidence of his authority. To search a dwelling, a warrant must be obtained (unless consent is given), and if that happens generally the police will be in attendance.
Whoever we decide to contact we’ve been assured that our help is welcomed and that if we’re in any doubt that what we’re seeing is a wildlife crime (see Recognise) we should report it anyway. Remember, if what we see ‘feels’ wrong, it probably is!
Even if in doubt take a photograph and email it (at the time or later) to the police or an investigations officer – they are trained to quickly recognise for example when a snare is illegally placed, whether a trap is being used correctly, or whether a crime is being committed or not.
Page updated March 2015.
Any comments, corrections, additions? Please let us know.