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RECORD WHAT YOU SEE

If you come across a wildlife crime scene, for example a dead bird or object that may be related to a wildlife crime, every piece of information is, or might be, important. It needs to be recorded properly and accurately for the authorities to have a chance of prosecuting an offender.

Please take the utmost care and do not put yourself or others at risk.

 

Before you do anything, it is very important NOT TO the following as you may well commit offences: :

 

  • Disturb the scene by walking around unnecessarily - small pieces of evidence (cigarette ends, footprints, the marks left by a spade etc) may be lost or trampled into the mud or grass.

  • Move any items at the scene - the exception being if they are likely to disappear before the police arrive when we can collect them as evidence.

  • Touch any dead birds or animals. They may be poisoned baits or victims of poisoning. Many poisons (eg Carbofuran) are extremely dangerous to you as well as wildlife in even very small amounts and can be absorbed through the skin. Consider carefully covering any suspected poisoned baits or victims to prevent any animal or person coming into contact with them.

  • Approach anyone you suspect of committing a crime - they may be violent and/or aggressive. Take particular care if incidents involve several suspects or the use of firearms.

  • Remove live birds of prey from crow cage traps, report the matter immediately.

  • Destroy or interfere with legal countryside practices such as correctly set traps and snares. If you are uncertain about what to do, take a photo and contact the police (101) or other agencies.

  • Do not publish details of suspected crimes on social media as this may hinder an effective investigation.

Once you are sure that it is SAFE TO DO SO:

 

  • Make a note of the date and time and take photographs or video of the scene using a mobile phone or camera. Or make as accurate a sketch as possible.

  • If safe to do so, watch and note what is happening – try to make a written note of anything you see and keep this in a safe place. 

  • If photographing an object try to use a coin or a notebook for scale - providing it won't disturb the crime scene.

  • Note the location accurately. If possible, record a grid reference, or ideally a GPS reading, of both the scene and where you witnessed the incident. If the crime is in an urban area note the address or any other recognizable description of the location.

  • If in the countryside take a number of wide angle photographs in each direction of any landmarks (a tree, a distinctive fence line, a hill) that might help officers relocate the crime scene. Imagine you were trying to find the same site again - what information might you need? Don't mark the site, for example with a white plastic bag. This may alert the offender that someone has found the site.

  • Vehicles – make, model, colour, type, distinguishing features, logos, or marks, and the registration number.

  • Persons – age, height, build, hair style, facial hair, accent (if spoken with), clothing, and anything they are carrying such as holdall, backpack, and anything else of significance.

  • Identify other witnesses and obtain their name and contact details.

BUT:

Don't mark the site, for example with a white plastic bag. This may alert the offender that someone has found the site.