UK wildlife crime conservation priorities


Wildlife crime - everything from rural crimes such as poaching to the illegal trade in ivory - is one of the many threats facing our biodiversity. JNCC contributes to the identification of UK wildlife crime enforcement priorities to enable policing to be targeted most effectively, part of an overall strategy to halt the loss of species and habitats.


Enforcement priorities are reviewed every two years by the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group (UK TCG), chaired by Chief Constable Bernard Lawson, which guides the work of enforcement agencies and the National Wildlife Crime Unit. JNCC plays a pivotal role within the TCG, ensuring that attention is focused on offences related to species and habitats of greatest conservation concern.  Hen Harrier (Circus Cyaneus) ©Sandy Sanderson_SNH


Specifically, JNCC chairs the Wildlife Crime Conservation Advisory Group (WCCAG) which, annually, brings together representatives from the statutory nature conservation bodies, non-governmental organisations, policy-makers and the statutory enforcement agencies, to identify and recommend priorities and intelligence requirements to the UK TCG from a conservation perspective. 


The current conservation priorities (for the period 2011-2013) recommended by WCCAG includes raptor persecution  (with a focus on hen harrier, goshawk, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, red kite and peregrine), bat persecution and freshwater pearl mussel. Recognising that the UK has responsibilities under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to safeguard species which are threatened by illegal trade, attention has also been focused on a number of key CITES commodities, namely ivory, traditional medicines (especially rhino horn) and tortoises.  JNCC provides scientific support and training on CITES implementation to enforcement authorities within the UK.  With the addition of priorities for other high-volume rural crimes such as poaching and badger baiting, the WCCAG recommendations have been adopted and will continue to be the primary focus for enforcement attention.


UK Wildlife Crime Conservation Priorities 2011-2013

Bat Persecution

Objective: to reduce bat crime by working with key stakeholders to raise awareness of responsibilities and criminal offences against bats, promoting a preventative approach and improving the submission of intelligence and standards of investigation relating to bats across the UK.

Freshwater Pearl Mussel

Objective: to raise awareness of criminality affecting freshwater pearl mussels in order to facilitate intelligence and incident reporting, leading to increased prevention and enforcement action.

Raptor Persecution

(including poisoning, egg theft, chick theft, taking from the wild and nest disturbance/destruction and to concentrate on golden eagle, goshawk, hen harrier, peregrine, red-kite and white-tailed eagle)

Objective: to raise community trust and awareness to facilitate intelligence and incident reporting, leading to increased prevention and enforcement activity relating to raptor persecution.

CITES Issues

(including ivory, tortoises and traditional medicines)

Objective: to increase the number of disruption activities and detections of illegal trade in CITES priority species by increasing the amount of targeted compliance activity, increasing the number of intelligence submissions and intelligence products produced, improve the quality of analytical assessments and complete in agreed time-scales, and increase the number of investigations and enforcement outcomes.



Contact File


Alison Littlewood

Senior CITES Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866814


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