Government plans to extend the powers of wildlife inspectors have
been roundly criticized by the police as well as organisations
representing landowners, such as the Country Land and Business
Under the Government's Natural Environment and Rural Communities
Bill currently in the House of Lords, wildlife inspectors will
gain powers significantly greater than those held by police officers,
including powers that the police say they badly need.
For example, under the protection of Badgers Act 1992, the police
only have the power to stop and search and there is no power to
enter premises. However, under this Bill it is proposed that wildlife
inspectors will have the power to do so, even if they do not suspect
that a crime has been committed.
Despite call by Jim Knight MP, the Rural Affairs minister, that
the police should investigate wild life crimes, it is feared that
the new powers for wildlife inspectors will mean that it will be
nearly impossible for the police to continue to lead in this area.
If the Bill goes through, the police are concerned that the public
will see wildlife inspectors and not the police as the option of
first choice in reporting such crimes, arguably a back wards step
The CLA has expressed its unhappiness that there was no prior consultation
by DEFRA on this proposal.
Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales and wildlife
crime spokesperson for the Association of Police Chief Constables
said: "ACPO has confirmed that the police are concerned by
the current drafting of the Bill, which will lead to confusion
over their role in tackling wildlife crime. Discussions are ongoing
to resolve this issue".
David Fursdon, CLA President said : "Naturally, we condemn
wildlife crime in any form, but it is an emotive issue and individuals
who are accused of a wildlife offence risk a far greater degree
of publicity and opprobrium than people accused of crimes which
are considered equivalent in terms of the sentencing powers available.
As such we believe that suspicions of wildlife crimes should be
investigated by a body which has an accepted system of checks and
balances and in whom those likely to be affected have confidence."
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