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Wildlife: Crime

Home Department written question – answered on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Labour, Scunthorpe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will review the effectiveness of enforcement by police forces of measures against wildlife crime and illegal hunting.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction)

We have no plans at present to review the effectiveness of enforcement by police forces of measures against wildlife crime and illegal hunting.

It is the role of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to review the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces. As such it would be for the Chief Inspector to decide on such a review.

The Home Office has recently announced that it will contribute £150,000 per year for three years to fund the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU). Government officials will be working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the NWCU to monitor the outcomes achieved through this funding.

The Home Office continues to meet with interested stakeholders and to work closely with the police, through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to identify what more can be done to ensure the Hunting Act is effectively and appropriately enforced and to improve detection of illegal hunting.

The Association of Chief Police Officers have conducted a survey of local police forces' response to enforcement of the Hunting Act which will inform best-practice guidance. The Government are also working with ACPO on ways to raise awareness of issues surrounding enforcement of the Hunting Act across the police service, and to communicate the importance of visible enforcement to community policing in rural areas and to the maintenance of public order.

We are also working closely with the Attorney-General about what more can be done to secure prosecutions where evidence has been presented of Hunting Act offences being committed. The Attorney-General in turn has agreed to raise the issue of the burden of proof in hunting cases with the Director of Public Prosecutions, and to engage with local Crown Prosecution Service leads to better understand and then communicate, the evidence needed to bring forward successful prosecutions.

26 individuals have now been convicted of offences under the Hunting Act 2004 which does show that the legislation is enforceable when the evidence presents itself.

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