Bowing to the common sense of a campaign to save the National Wildlife Crime Unit the government this week announced a U-turn to its potentially disastrous decision to close this unit. The campaign led by an online petition and backed by Green Party PCC candidate Paul Woodhead has forced the government to secure funding for this important unit.
A vital component of the national infrastructure of crime prevention in our countryside is undertaken by the work of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and it was under imminent threat of being defunded by government from 1st April as part of budget cuts.
We have a proud tradition in Staffordshire of caring for our animals and in particular the last wild herd of deer in UK on Cannock Chase. It would have been a travesty if this unit had been quietly closed down and the responsibilities transferred to busy local police.
This intelligence unit plays a lead role in deterring, catching and prosecuting criminal activities including badger baiting, poaching, rare-bird egg theft, hare coursing, illegal taxidermy and cruelty to wild animals. It is crucial that a PCC for Staffordshire stands up for all aspects of public safety and fights to stop the cuts to our vital police services.
Cuts have consequences and why should these consequences be felt by the harm done to our wildlife. I worry that both nationally and locally our police service is not granted the resources required to fulfil the job they want to do. We can’t afford another four years of cuts to the police service
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and Home Office ministers have agreed to each provide funding of £136,000 a year for the next four financial years
Paul Woodhead is Co-ordinator (Chair) of Cannock Chase Green Party