The number of people being convicted of wildlife crimes has fallen by more than 40 per cent, the seventh annual Wildlife Crime Report has revealed.
In 2022, there were 526 convictions for crimes relating to wildlife in England and Wales, a fall of 42 per cent from the 900 successful convictions in 2021. The drop is much larger than the decrease in reported crimes during the same period, which fell by just under nine per cent from an estimated 4,885 to around 4,457.
Despite the small drop in overall crime, the report revealed a rise in the number of marine mammal incidents, which increased by 13 per cent, and bat crime incidents, which rose by 23 per cent.
The report was put together by Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of 82 organisations. Following the publication of the report the group has expressed its disappointment that those harming wildlife are not being convicted.
Dominic Dyer, Wildlife and Countryside Link’s wildlife crime chair, said: “To put it simply, people who hurt wildlife are getting away with it, with a lack of convictions leaving them free to cause further suffering.
“Despite shockingly high levels of wildlife crime in recent years we’re not seeing higher levels of convictions to give nature the justice it deserves.”
There is no official data available on wildlife crime, with the estimated figures instead coming from reports to wildlife organisations made by members of the public. This means that the true number of crimes is likely to be higher.
Wildlife and Countryside Link has called on the Home Office to make wildlife crimes notifiable so that they are recorded in official Government statistics.
Mr Dyer said: “With the Government’s deadline to halt the decline of nature by 2030 getting ever closer, it’s time for ministers to take the issue of wildlife crime seriously. This means the Home Office making it a notifiable offence to help police forces identify crime hotspots and plan accordingly.”
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