In the hot seat…..


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)

11 thoughts on “In the hot seat…..

  1. Thank you for this report. First meetings are never easy, particularly when an important section of the committee stays away. Raptor persecution has to stop, and will be stopped. Attendance tactics won’t change this.


  2. Good luck, you will need it, though many still do not acknowledge the scale of the problem, I think there is a growing realisation in the shooting world, that the situation as it is cannot continue.

    Admittedly this is mainly on low ground shooting estates, where species such as Goshawk are thriving, in certain
    However, I feel there is also an appetite for change among a number of moorland owners / tenants, and the time is right to grasp the nettle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent, I look forward to the stopping of wildlife crime in all its aspects but I am passionate about getting the shooting and dog trailing under serious control. Far too often the criminals get away with blatant activity covered and concealed by expensive lawyers all in order to protect a rich shoot/land owner’s sad reputation.
    The gamekeepers walk out suggests to me that they know the noose/snare is tightening. If any gamekeepers are law abiding why don’t they help to rid the country of the criminals, they must know who they are?


  4. It is my belief that the only way you will ever beat raptor persecution is to embrace the shooting fraternity. The constant sniping by groups about gamekeepers et al is not going to help bring the few to justice. Groups like stoptheshoot need to realise that shooting is a part of the countryside and needs to be accepted. They are after all not breaking the law. Some gamekeepers employed on shoots are and it is these people these groups should be targetting. The question needs asking are they there to protect raptors or to stop yet another long held countryside pursuit? If it is the latter then their support will wane but if it is trully about raptor protection then they should get all the support that can be offered to them. Likewise if the hunting fraternity who were missing from this last meeting are serious about weeding out the bad apples then they need to embrace groups like previously mentioned.

    Good luck in your new role and lets hope that the raptors survival is increased

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sad thing is that gamekeepers deny anything is wrong. They must know who the criminals are and they could so easily get rid of the “bad apples”. They could use the law or peer pressure, whichever, as long as it is effective.
      Over the many years this problem has existed (at least 150yrs, although it was legal to kill raptors until 1954) there has been no evidence of cleaning up and pursuing lawful activities. Therefore, 65 years of inaction from the gamekeepers has lead to the current situation. Where the only reasonable action seems to be, ban the shooting of driven birds, at the very least.
      The illegal killing of raptors and eradication of any other predator, makes organised shoots unsustainable.
      Add to this, destruction of habitat, pollution from tonnes of lead shot, millions of alien species of bird let loose into the countryside, millions of birds shot for fun and then disposed of (not eaten) including “fly tipping” and the cost to the country in the form of farm subsidies to the shoots, when it is only a activity for the wealthy.


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