Did you know that it is illegal to kill or harm any British wild bird and their eggs?* All badger setts are protected by law? That shooting or taking of animals without the permission of the land owner is a crime? Or anywhere that bats roost (live/sleep) is a protected place?
Many people will not realise that harm being done to wildlife is likely to be a criminal offence. And they may not know that Hertfordshire Constabulary takes a very keen interest in raising awareness of wildlife crime. It will actively investigate offences, bring offenders to justice and support those who wish to protect our wildlife.
The Constabulary is promoting World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Crime Week, supported by Crimestoppers, with a series of social media messages designed to be shared as widely as possible.
Sgt Jamie Bartlett, who leads Hertfordshire’s Rural Operational Support Team, said: “The idea of our campaign is to ensure that people are aware of what actions constitute an actual crime so that they can report it to us for investigation. While we try to ensure that all our frontline officers are aware of and looking out for wildlife crime, the most likely people to see or suspect wildlife crime that is happening are residents and businesses, so we rely on our communities to a great extent to help us protect the county’s natural assets.
“This week is also about making sure that those who harm wildlife understand that they are committing a criminal offence and that police will pursue them. Hopefully this will act as a strong deterrent and help to avoid the harm they cause, and reduce the number of incidents.”
Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, has also given his support to the campaign as an advocate of ensuring rural crime is treated as seriously as any other crime.
He said: “It is vital that we protect our rural environment and heritage for future generations. No rural community should feel neglected by the police, including those who are guardians of our wildlife, such as landowners and farmers. I am pleased that the Constabulary deals positively with all rural crime and I commend their work to protect our wildlife.”
Some of the week’s featured crimes are badger, bat and wild bird protection, hare coursing and poaching.
Anyone with information about a wildlife-related crime should contact call the Herts Police non-emergency number 101 and if a crime is believed to be in progress, always use 999.
You can also contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded (you will never need go to court).
*certain species can be controlled under licence by land owners and game keepers.
The Rural Operation Support Team (ROST)
The ROST is a five strong team of police officers specialised in preventing crime concerning wildlife, agriculture, equine issue, the county’s heritage and the local environment.
The ROST also deals with traveller liaison issues and supports local Safer Neighbourhood Teams and Intervention Teams investigating anything from badger baiting, hare coursing and the theft of red diesel, to nighthawking (illegal removal of archaeological artefacts under cover of darkness), stolen plant equipment, criminal damage and the theft of metal from historical buildings.