Environment minister Richard Benyon announces almost £300,000 worth of funding, enabling the unit to continue tackling the growing illegal wildlife trade, both at home and abroad.

Environment minister Richard Benyon has confirmed that continued funding has secured the future of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).

Killed for illegal profits.The NWCU leads the UK’s fight against the growing illegal wildlife trade. Through effective intelligence-led enforcement, it targets key criminals engaged in serious and organised crime.

Announcing the funding, Mr Benyon said: “Wildlife crime is a very serious issue with organised gangs using the proceeds from illegally traded items, like rhino horn, to fuel other illegal activities.
“It’s right that a specialist unit supports the police in bringing these people to trial. The funding for another year will mean the unit can continue to bring criminals to justice and tackle the illegal wildlife trade both at home and abroad.”

The unit has also been instrumental in the UK in combating the illegal trade in rhino horn, which now has a black market value in Asia as high as gold.

During 2012 the NWCU:

  • Provided direct assistance in 175 cases.
  • Supported a further 74 cases and provided direct input into 13 ongoing enforcement operations involving wildlife and other criminality within the UK.
  • Collated and assessed 970 intelligence logs helped with a number of the 57 cases known to have been brought.
  • Supported a Europol project focusing on illegal trade in rhino horn.
  • Supported Interpol projects on internet trade in ivory, on the illegal trade in birds and on illegal trade in endangered species and tigers.

DEFRA funds £136,000 of the NWCU budget; it’s additionally funded by the Home Office, which will match DEFRA funding with a further £136,000.

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