Wildlife Crime Conservation Advisory Group




Despite legal protection, some of the UK’s most threatened species and most important habitats are subject to significant and persistent criminal activity, while illegal trade in wildlife from other parts of the world threatens biodiversity elsewhere.  Tackling wildlife crime requires dedicated and intensive long term work to prevent damage and destruction of some our most important natural assets. 


The Joint Nature Conservation Committee plays a key role in tackling wildlife crime by supporting prevention and enforcement activities.  JNCC sits on a national strategic Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordinating Group (UK TCG) which establishes wildlife crime priorities for targeted enforcement action in the UK and we are key partners in the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW).


JNCC also co-ordinates and chairs the Wildlife Crime Conservation Advisory Group (WCCAG) (formerly known as the Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group), which is an informal advisory body to the UK Wildlife Crime TCG. The advisory group was established following a meeting in 2003 of representatives from key UK organisations involved in the enforcement, prevention or detection of wildlife crime.  


What is wildlife crime?


Wildlife crime is any activity that contravenes laws (within any country or countries in the UK) that provide protection to species, habitats or geological or physiographical features.


Aims of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group


The aim of the WCCAG is to advise the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Co-ordination Group (UK TCG) on the impact of crime on the conservation status of protected species and/or habitats as well as identifying conservation priorities and intelligence requirements for wildlife law enforcement in the UK and to provide recommendations on these, and other related issues, to the UK TCG.


Criteria for identifying wildlife crime priorities


The following criteria for the selection of UK priorities for enforcement of crimes of conservation importance have been agreed by the WCCAG.


  1. The feature of conservation interest is known, or is believed or suspected, to be subject to significant and persistent criminal activity.
  2. a) Such criminal behaviour may prevent the feature of conservation interest from being maintained at, or recovering to, favourable conservation status
    b) for species occurring in other countries, illegal trade to the UK is at a level which is likely to have a detrimental impact on wild populations of the species.
  3. Action by enforcement agencies, through prevention, intelligence gathering or detection and prosecution of offences, is necessary to make a significant contribution to overall conservation efforts to maintain the feature at, or enable it to recover to, favourable conservation status.
  4. The relevant features of conservation interest are also subject to complementary action to enhance their conservation status, such as through species recovery programmes or similar with co-ordinated actions involving a number of partners.



Priorities for action against wildlife crime


The WCCAG has identified the following conservation priorities for action against wildlife crime for 2011/13:


  • Raptor persecution (including poisoning, egg theft, chick theft and nest disturbance/destruction) with a focus on golden eagle, goshawk, hen harrier, red kite and white-tailed eagle
  • Freshwater Pearl Mussel collection
  • Bat persecution
  • Illegal trade of CITES-listed species (current priorities include: ivory, reptiles and traditional medicines  (with particular attention to rhino horn))

More details can be found at: http://www.nwcu.police.uk/what-are-priorities-and-intelligence-requirements/priorities/

In addition, the following issues have been identified as requiring additional intelligence:

  • Illegal trade in CITES timber (with a focus on agarwood)
  • Illegal taking of wild birds’ eggs
  • Illegal trade in parrots
  • Introduction of invasive non-native species

More details can be found at:  http://www.nwcu.police.uk/what-are-priorities-and-intelligence-requirements/intelligence-requirements/




 Membership of the Working Group includes relevant representatives from:


Statutory Nature Conservation Agencies

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Natural England

Natural Resources Wales

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Scottish Natural Heritage


Other Statutory Agencies

Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency

Environment Agency

Food Environment Research Agency

Marine Management Organisation

Royal Botanic Garden Kew


Enforcement Authorities

National Wildlife Crime Unit

Metropolitan Wildlife Crime unit

UK Border Force (CITES Team)



Non-Governmental Organisations with a national remit and which assist enforcement authorities in the prevention and detection of wildlife crime.


Others may be invited to join the Group for one or more meetings as needed and if agreed to by the WCCAG.




Meetings of the WCCAG are convened by agreement to fit in with meetings of the UK Wildlife Crime TCG. All other business is conducted by email.




The WCCAG will report to the Chair of the UK Wildlife Crime Tasking and Coordination Group.



JNCC Contacts

Tel: 01733 866814 (direct)



Links to other websites




The Partnership for Action Against Crime (PAW)

Wild Bird Crime

Convention on International Trade Endangered Species (CITES)

June 2013