What a wasted opportunity! The IoS publishes its 'investigation' into wildlife crime today, with a huge front cover splash "Wildlife crime doubles in just one year." And to back it up? Just two feeble pages of churnalism, repeating vague scare stories from organisations desperate for funding.
The paper makes no attempt to look behind the statistics and discover what's really going on. Any journalist worth the name would ask, for starters, "Is there a huge increase in actual crime, or is this an increase in the reporting of something that was already happening?"
I'd like to see the statistics on 'badger persecution' broken down, and followed up. There are two very different problems going on here. On the one hand, we have organised criminal gangs arranging badger/dog fights, with large sums of money changing hands in illegal betting. And on the other hand we have the government's refusal to face up to the uncomfortable choices over Bovine TB, with the inevitable result that some exasperated farmers take the law into their own hands.
Does anyone dare look into the question of whether certain ethnic groups are responsible for certain types of wildlife crime? Certainly dogfighting is more prevalent within certain groups within the UK. Ian Briggs, chief inspector of the RSPCA's Special Operations Unit, has been quoted as saying: "Out of all the work we do 98 per cent is Asian." It's not inconceivable that there may be similar trends in badger baiting and the like. How can we begin to tackle the problem if no-one dares to even mention the race issue?
And hare coursing, big in Lincolnshire apparently. You don't say. And those people doing the hare coursing. They wouldn't be living in homes with, er, wheels on would they?
Just a few years ago there was a problem with immigrant workers from other European states catching fish, swans, ducks and the like for the pot - I remember the press stories at the time saying that these people needed to understand that they couldn't carry on like that now they'd come to Britain. So can we assume that they've all now received an education and don't go poaching any more?
The whole issue of wildlife crime is huge and complex. I had hoped the IoS 'investigation' would contribute to unravelling it. Instead, we have 2 pages written by a journalist who didn't lift his bum off his office chair, never mind get mud on his boots. Disappointing.