The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation brings more than 200 experts together to pool their resources to combat poaching
Gamekeepers joined wildlife crime officers from around the country to pool their experience and expertise at the UK’s first national anti-poaching conference on 11 September at JCB’s world headquarters in Staffordshire.
The event, which was organised by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and backed by the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Poaching Priority Delivery Groups, brought together representatives of key rural groups, including gamekeepers, river keepers, deer interests and farmers, and senior and frontline police officers and crime commissioners. Representatives of Government agencies, including DEFRA, were also present.
Delegates discussed a broad range of issues, including the importance of raising public awareness of poaching as a modern problem with a significant economic impact on rural communities and links to organised crime and illegal firearm use. The key role of information-sharing and the use of forensic evidence also featured.
Further topics included possible future changes in the law and the wider impact of poaching on rural
businesses and communities, including job losses, arson, vandalism and burglary, plus animal welfare issues, and damage to conservation projects and the meat industry. Successful anti-poaching initiatives were also analysed.
The chair of the conference, Simon Prince, the chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, who leads for the Association of Chief Police Officers on Wildlife and Rural Crime, said: “Poaching is not something new for the police to deal with. We do, however, need to recognise and understand how this illegal activity has developed over time into an organised crime issue with an economic driver behind it. We also need to be conscious of how this activity can impact on our rural communities.
Working with the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation in raising awareness in all police forces will help to forge stronger links with those rural communities in preventing, catching and convicting the offenders.”
NGO chairman Lindsay Waddell said: “Poaching is not a bucolic crime of yesteryear. It’s a vicious modern-day criminal activity. Many of our 15,000 members suffer at the hands of poachers, be it crimes against people, property or wildlife. The NGO works closely with the police and others in combating poaching, but decided to grasp the nettle more tightly by running the National Anti-Poaching Conference, a first for the UK.
“By bringing together experts from the police, wildlife and land management bodies, I believe the conference has added impetus to the fight against this all too common and serious wildlife crime. Let’s hope it helps put poaching on the back foot.”
Mr Waddell added: “I’d like wholeheartedly to thank everyone who played a part in making the conference so successful, especially Chief Constable Simon Prince, the ACPO lead officer on wildlife and rural crime, for chairing the event, as well as the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Poaching Priority Delivery Groups for their tremendous support.”