The Home Office collects data on the number of notifiable wildlife crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales. Only a minority of the 300 crimes in law relating to wildlife are notifiable, however. This data does not record whether the crime involved a bird or another type of animal so it is not possible to specify how many crimes related to birds.
All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which provides a powerful framework for the conservation of wild birds, their eggs, nests and habitats. The Government is committed to ensuring the protection afforded to wild birds is effectively enforced. There are strong penalties for offenders, including imprisonment.
Raptor persecution is one of the UK’s six national wildlife crime priorities and is subject to a prevention, intelligence and enforcement plan. The National Wildlife Crime Unit, which is part funded by Defra, monitors and gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey and provides assistance to police forces when required.
The Government also helps tackle wildlife crime through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW), a multi-agency body comprising representatives of the Government, and voluntary bodies with an interest in combating wildlife crime.