Lincolnshire Police is “paving the way for tackling wildlife crime”, says the World Animal Protection (formerly WSPA), after a rise in prosecutions and accurate intelligence.
In 2012, the force launched Operation Galileo. The campaign set about putting a stop to the rise in hare coursing after 1200 incidents were reported in Lincolnshire.
The first year of the operation saw 250 less incidents reported than the previous year. In the second year, incidents reduced by 98 – the lowest number of hare coursing incidents in six years.
As a result of the project’s success, Lincolnshire Police is now running Project Trespass, aimed at rural night time poaching.
The Lincolnshire force is one of the leading forces in the country for feeding intelligence back to the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).
PC Nick Willey, Force Wildlife Rural Crime Officer said: “I have always had an interest in wildlife issues and care about the countryside and the rural communities.
“Having policed them for over 25 years I recognise the issues that affect people.
“Only one person out of the 186 people prosecuted in 2012 through Operation Galileo didn’t have any criminal record with the police.
“This is a clear indication of the links to other criminality. We must continue to encourage the public to report wildlife crime to enable better enforcement and an accurate picture across the UK.”
Since April, 2014, some wildlife offences have their own separate classification for officers’ records.
World Animal Protection believes that the Government must ensure more offences are included in the wildlife crime category for it to have real impact.
World Animal Protection UK Campaigns Manager Alyx Elliott said: “Lincolnshire is paving the way for tackling wildlife crime in the UK by raising awareness and feeding intelligence reports back to the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
“Their intelligence and prosecutions justify the need for better analysis of wildlife crime- but the types of crimes they are dealing with are currently not featured in the new recorded crime category. We hope evidence of this kind will move the Home Office to broaden their category to include all wildlife crimes.”