Policing priorities

Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group


JNCC has commissioned a consortium led by the International Zoo Vererinary Group to conduct a study to look at ways to permanently mark juvenile tortoises in trade. Marking individual animals in trade can be of enormous assisstance to enforcement authorities, allowing them to verify the provenance of individual animals. © Rob QuestIn January, JNCC hosted the Wildlife Law Enforcement Working Group (WLEWG) at its fifth meeting since its formation in 2003. The purpose of the group is to provide the police and enforcement agencies with advice on the priorities for wildlife law enforcement from a conservation perspective. The group, chaired by JNCC, comprises representatives of the statutory agencies, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), enforcement agencies, Animal Health, Defra and some non-governmental organisations  (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, TRAFFIC – the wildlife trade monitoring network, the Bat Conservation Trust and Plantlife).


A key outcome from the meeting was to agree criteria for the selection of priorities for wildlife crime law enforcement, enabling candidate species or topics to be scored and ranked. The meeting reviewed the current priorities and, with some revisions, endorsed them. Thus the recommended revised priorities are:

  • freshwater pearl mussel;
  • raptors, specifically hen harrier, goshawk, golden eagle, sea eagle and red kite;
  • bats;
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, specifically tortoises, ivory, caviar, ramin (a type of hardwood) and traditional medicines.


Some additional topics were also identified as emerging issues for which further intelligence should be sought.


The ultimate determination of priorities for enforcement agencies and the NWCU is undertaken by a high-level group chaired by Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom (ACPO lead on wildlife crime), who was instrumental in stimulating the formation of the WLEWG. With the addition of priorities for law enforcement on other rural crimes, such as poaching and badger baiting, the WLEWG recommendations were adopted and will continue to be the primary focus of NWCU attention.


Vin Fleming

Head of International Unit

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866870


Alison Littlewood
Senior CITES Adviser
Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866814