Act now to safeguard the UK’s National Wildlife Crime Unit

Do you want to take meaningful action to help end wildlife crime?

Here’s a simple thing you can do right now in the UK – write to your MP and ask them to sign this Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the UK Government to finance the country’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).

UK National Wildlife Crime UnitThe full text of the motion is: That this House is concerned with UK wildlife crime that threatens the protection of biodiversity; recognises that crimes such as illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory are serious crimes, sometimes connected to other serious organised crimes; further recognises that internationally illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law, corrupts governance, destabilises society, and has a devastating impact on species populations; further recognises the importance of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit which provides specialist skills and expertise to police, UK Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, EUROPOL and INTERPOL for the prevention and detection of wildlife crime; is further concerned that funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit is currently insecure, as its budget was cut by 10 per cent in 2011, and funding is only confirmed until March 2013; and calls on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Home Department to recognise publicly the importance of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and to commit to maintain its current level of funding with long-term certainty beyond March 2013, as recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee’s Wildlife Crime report.”

You can find out who your local MP is from here.

So far the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has committed to pay its share of the tiny annual budget of £136,000 to keep the NWCU alive and functioning, but the Home Office is dragging its feet. It needs to act urgently as money runs out on March 31.

EIA has today  written to Home Secretary Theresa May, urging her to take swift action to secure the future of the NWCU, not just in the interests of the UK’s domestic wildlife but also for the sake of endangered species such as tigers, rhinos and elephants.

The UK’s NWCU is one of the world’s premier wildlife crime enforcement bodies. Consistent with other areas of British policing, the NWCU sets the international benchmark for intelligence-led enforcement; maximising the use of limited resources to target key criminals engaged in serious and organised crime.

Personnel from the NWCU have played a vital role in imparting expertise to police and multi-agency enforcement units in countries where intelligence-led enforcement is urgently required. This includes liaising with INTERPOL and assisting with training and capacity-building among enforcement officers in India, Nepal and China.

tiger skinUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has set a fine example as a senior political leader taking wildlife crime seriously. She recognises that wildlife crime is not just a ‘green issue’ but that it goes hand-in-hand with violence, conflict and the displacement and disenfranchisement of vulnerable communities.

Wildlife and forest crime flourishes in and creates an environment of lawlessness, and the same criminals and trafficking routes are often associated with arms and narcotics trade, while the proceeds of wildlife and forest crime are used to finance security threats and other forms of serious transnational organised crime.

Various UN bodies have recognised the serious nature of wildlife and forest crime, reckoned to be worth $17 billion annually. Without real and meaningful international cooperation to combat them, wildlife and forest crime networks will continue to undermine peace, security, development and environmental security.

Let’s make sure the UK can hold it’s head up high and stand alongside the USA by giving wildlife crime enforcement the attention it deserves.