Wildlife Crime Unit gets funding for another year23/01/2013 11:16:02 Vital funding confirmed, but only for 1 more year
January 2013. Continued funding has secured the future of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) Environment Minister Richard Benyon has confirmed, at least for 1 more year.
The NWCU is at the forefront of the UK's fight against the growing illegal wildlife trade. Through effective intelligence-led enforcement, it targets key criminals engaged in serious and organised crime.
Announcing the funding, Richard Benyon said: "Wildlife crime is a very serious issue with organised gangs using the proceeds from illegally traded items like rhino horn to fuel other illegal activities. It's right that a specialist unit supports the police in bringing these people to trial. The funding for another year will mean the unit can continue to bring criminals to justice and tackle the illegal wildlife trade both at home and abroad.
During 2012 the NWCU:
Why does such a vital department have to scratch around for its funding? The NCWU costs virtually nothing to run for a year, yet the government grudgingly coughs up a tiny amount on a year by year basis - Hardly condusive to long-term planning.
And this just weeks after report revealed that the international trade in illegal wildlife products has reached $19 billion per year, and that the trade strengthens criminal networks, undermines national security, and poses increasing risks to global health, besides driving many endangered species towards extinction.
World Society for the Protection of Animals Director Simon Pope said: "It's good news that the National WCU has secured funding for another year from Government, but at what cost to the future of wildlife crime policing in the UK?
The work of the NWCU was warmly praised by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee in its recent inquiry into wildlife crime and is widely recognised as punching above its weight. The Committee called on the Government to maintain the current level of funding, with longer-term certainty, to allow the unit to focus on its core duties.
Martin Harper said, "Both Richard Benyon at Defra and Jeremy Browne at the Home Office have played a key role in securing this funding for a unit which provides great value for money. For a relatively small amount, the UK has a unit with a world-wide reputation for delivering an effective response to the threats that criminals pose to our wildlife. What we now need is for its long-term future to be secured so that it can make strategic long-term plans."