1. Small Fine Destruction of Roosts
Bat Conservation Trust is currently investigating just what went wrong when a developer was convicted for roost destruction, but was fined a shockingly small sum.
The case was heard in Bridlington Magistrates Court at the end of August. The developer pleaded guilty and was convicted of six charges of destruction of bat roosts after demolishing six buildings, knowingly destroying brown long-eared bat, whiskered bat and pipistrelle roost sites. The successful conviction was marred by the risible penalty: on each charge he was fined £35 per roost destroyed (a total of £210) with a victim surcharge of £20 and costs of £85.
BCT’s Investigations Officer Peter Charleston (who will be at the Bat Workers Forum on Friday 13th September) is working with Julia Hanmer, CEO to investigate just why and how this shockingly low penalty was judged appropriate. BCT is contacting the Director Public Prosecutions as head of the Crown Prosecution Service seeking further information and we will then look for ways to ensure this is not repeated in upcoming trials.
The BCT team is also contacting other NGOs to jointly push for a more consistent and, importantly, commensurate punishment for wildlife crime cases.
BCT’s Investigations Project works to investigate and provide expert witness services advice and assistance to Police Wildlife Crime Officers and those engaged with preventing and holding to account wildlife crime. Successful conviction for a similar offence last year resulted in a more just fine of £7500 and £100 costs after BCT submitted impact statements to the courts.
BCT’s bat crime figures for the year January 2012-January 2013 recorded a rise of 10 % in the number of incidents reported to BCT, a total of 372. Of those 138 incidents were referred to law enforcement agencies. From anecdotal evidence reported to BCT these reports are just the tip of the iceberg.
We know this is disheartening; sentences like this one undermining both the British legal system and the valuable hard work conservationists are undertaking getting cases prosecuted. We all need to keep working together to secure convictions and appropriate penalties for wildlife crime.
We will be updating on this issue as we learn more and welcome your thoughts and comments – we know that the sentencing council consider issues raised by a ‘significant number of interested parties’ so may be asking for bat group support at some stage in the near future.
2. Bat Worker Forum Agenda
Please see attached for the agenda for Friday’s Bat Worker Forum. If you haven’t yet booked a place please get in touch with Lisa Worledge. The minutes from last year’s forum and other information about the meeting are available on the BCT website at: www.bats.org.uk/pages/annual_bat_workers_forum.html (If you have booked a place you should receive a separate email with the agenda, directions to the venue and minutes from 2012.)
3. Scottish Bat Conference 9th November 2013
4. Bat Group Bulletin Online
It was the intention to start having the Bulletins online from this edition. As it has come out a bit earlier than expected there will be a slight delay but this edition will be online from the end of next week so keep an eye on the Bat Group pages: www.bats.org.uk/pages/resources_for_bat_groups.html. Eventually we’ll end up with a rolling 12-months’ worth of the Bulletins.
5. Key Dates for Your Diary
Watch this space for dates and reminders of conferences and other events you may be interested in. Please don’t forget you can get some extra publicity for your events by adding the details to the BCT website at: www.bats.org.uk/events.php
13 September – Bat Workers Forum, University of Warwick. For the 2013 agenda and details of last year’s meeting please see: www.bats.org.uk/pages/annual_bat_workers_forum.html (book your place by noon on Friday 13th)
13 to 15 September – National Bat Conference, University of Warwick. Booking has now closed but details of the programme and other information is available on the BCT website at: www.bats.org.uk/pages/national_bat_conference.html
9 November – Scottish Bat workers Conference, Battleby, near Perth. (Save the date – booking not yet open)