Raptor Forensics Fund opens with £10K

Earlier this year we proposed a new fund to help the police tackle wildlife crime. The idea was that this fund would help speed up the analysis and assessment of forensic evidence in wildlife crime investigations relating to the illegal killing of birds of prey, where police budgetary and resource constraints were impacting on the progression of potential criminal investigations (see here).

This week we’re delighted to announce the launch of the new Raptor Forensics Fund, which has a very healthy initial budget of £10K. These funds have been donated by Wild Justice, Northern England Raptor Forum, Tayside & Fife Raptor Study Group, Devon Birds, and a number of individuals who wish to remain anonymous.

The Raptor Forensics Fund will be administered solely by the PAW Forensic Working Group (a sub-group of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime) and is open to any regional or national statutory agency in the UK, specifically to support forensic testing in wild raptor crime investigations.

The fund will support investigations in two ways:

Support for early investigations

We anticipate this fund will be most useful in circumstances where there is suspicion of a crime but insufficient evidence to meet the criteria required to submit a carcass for Government testing. To prevent any delay in progressing an incident, which could also involve a live injured bird of prey, immediate access to funds of up to £200 will be granted for x-rays and post mortems as long as the investigating officer submits case details to the PAW Forensics Working Group (FWG) within 24 hours.

If initial forensic costs are estimated to exceed £200 (e.g. there are multiple birds), officers must first receive approval from the FWG before work begins.

Support for criminal investigations

Once it has been established that a crime has been committed, a criminal investigation can proceed. Additional evidence that may have been recovered with the dead birds or during follow-up enquiries may require forensic testing. Investigators are encouraged to discuss forensic options with the FWG and apply for subsequent funding which, if approved by FWG, will be 100% recoverable from the Raptor Forensics Fund.

Detailed specifics about the availability of the new Raptor Forensics Fund are currently being prepared by the PAW Forensic Working Group and will be distributed to the Police Wildlife Crime Network imminently. The FWG website will also highlight the fund and provide information about how officers can apply for funding support.

Thank you to those who have provided donations for this new fund and thank you to the PAW Forensics Working Group for its willingness to administer the funding applications. We look forward to seeing the money being put to good use to help bring the raptor-killing criminals to court.