Let me start this latest blog by offering a heartfelt thank you to everyone that has offered me their support since I took on the role as National Chair of the RPPDG in September last year. Having been in post for around six months, I chaired my first RPPDG meeting just a couple of weeks ago.
Being trusted by the people of England & Wales to chair this group is a great honour for me, and a role that I will fulfil to the very best of my abilities. I will ensure that I give the role my all, with the aim of making raptor persecution a thing of the past, after all 2019 will be the `Year of the Raptor`.
The RPPDG was formed in 2009 and contrary to many social media reports is not a DEFRA led initiative. The RPPDG is one of a number of similar PDG meetings that are governed and held to account by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) lead for Wildlife Crime, currently DCC Craig Naylor of Lincolnshire Police, through the UK Tasking and Coordinating Group Meeting.
As I previously spoke about, I attended my first TCG after just a few weeks in post and updated the previous TCG chair on my plans to move the RPPDG forwards with rigour, accountability and at considerable pace. The RPPDG is ten years old this year and I fully intend to make the most successful one yet.
RPPDG Meeting 16th January 2019
Again much has been written about this meeting in both the national and social media space, and mostly focused on some empty seats at the table, I intend however to focus this update on the extremely positive steps we took forward as a group during this meeting.
I have repeatedly given my absolute commitment to making the work of the group open and transparent and that through this blog I would update you all, so here is an overview of my first meeting in the `hot seat`.
The group was joined by a number of guests, all of whom added real value to the day, and are now considering how they can support us moving forwards including potentially joining the RPPDG as core-members. I will introduce these people in future blogs once they have decided on how and if they can add meaningful value, which I am sure they all will.
The group is now well on the way to having an agreed Terms of Reference, a really important document that will provide focus, direction and absolute clarity of purpose for everyone involved. Some may say this should already be obvious, but recent history would demonstrate this hasn’t always been the case.
The Tactical Delivery Plan is also now much more tightly defined and currently with group members for further feedback following the first ever National Workshop I held in December. This plan, and members support in delivering it, will be our key tool in the fight to end raptor persecution.
We spent a good chunk of the meeting discussing the need for a national awareness raising campaign and how I believe the award winning `Operation Owl` should be the brand for this. Utilising this approach has worked extremely well for `Operational Galileo` and hare coursing and I was able to share with the group some early concept work that had been produced on my behalf (thanks Chloe). Working closely with North Yorkshire Police, 2019 will see a number of high profile `Operation Owl` days as we look to broaden the reach of the brand and highlight the relentless persecution issue.
It is hoped that this in turn will lead to greater public awareness and increased intelligence reporting as a direct result. This will feed the newly forming Enforcement Sub-Group, to tackle head on those people responsible for shooting, poisoning and trapping our birds.
The group was updated on a number of other important issues, including the proposed White tailed Eagle Isle-of-White reintroduction, the Hen Harrier Action Plan and the three recently released Golden Eagle chicks (Edward, Beaky & Emily) in Southern Scotland. I look forward to working to support these initiatives moving forwards.
The group next meets towards the end of April, and will be hosted by North Yorkshire Police. During this meeting I very much hope to identify leads for a number of the initial critical actions and kick-start work to deliver them, including the nationwide roll-out of Operation Owl….
Let me close by saying this, the prevention of the ongoing and relentless persecution of OUR birds of prey has swiftly become a matter of real passion for me. Those that attempt to get in our way will just strengthen my resolve to see it end.
Together we are stronger.
Photo credit- image from google search (Male Hen Harrier)