The Wildlife Liaison Officer (WLO) is the central point of contact within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and is based within district policing command in police headquarters, Belfast. The WLO is managed by the PSNI Superintendent lead for rural and wildlife crime.
Our specialist WLO raises awareness of wildlife and animal welfare issues within the PSNI. The WLO is the central point of contact within the PSNI for police officers and police staff when advice, support and assistance is required in relation to all animal welfare or wildlife crime with particular links to a suspected breach in the legislation and/or any associated queries. A crime is a crime and therefore every investigating police officer can investigate wildlife and animal crime with the specialist knowledge of the central wildlife liaison officer.
The main areas of responsibilities for the Wildlife Liaison Officer include;
- Advice and guidance for police officers and police staff in the investigation of any suspected breach in wildlife legislation including the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (NI) 2011 otherwise known as the WANE Act (NI) 2011.
- Schedule 5 species, for example the protection of badgers and their setts. (A full list of animals can be found in the legislation).
- Introduction of non-native species (for example, grey squirrels, muntjac deer etc).
- Protection of nests (for example, in use or being built).
- Illegal killing/poisoning of birds of prey (for example, Buzzards, Red Kites).
- Illegal deer hunting (for example, out of season, at night etc).
- Wild flowers (for example, illegal uprooting of wildflowers).
- Bats (disturbance of habitat and roosts) as per the habitats legislation.
This list provides examples and is not exhaustive. Please refer to legislation for full lists.
- The WLO offers advice and guidance for police officers and police staff in the investigation of a possible breach in the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011. (Mainly section 8 i.e. fighting offences).
- Offers advice, support and guidance to the police staff and police officers on the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (CoTES) legislation for example selling endangered species (types of monkeys, Ivory, etc.) within Northern Ireland.
- Offers, support and guidance to police officers/staff when animals are on the road.
- Liaising with statutory and non-statutory agencies through the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAWNI). Please refer to the PAWNI leaflet/website for more information www.wildlifecrimeni.org.
The Wildlife Liaison Officer offers advice, support and assistance to the Police Service which will assist police in deciding if a breach of the legislation has occurred and if so what further action may be required, The matter is therefore investigated at local level by an assigned investigating officer. The WLO will recommend expert witnesses to assist in wildlife/animal welfare investigations.
For general enquiries on wildlife please refer to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency have issued a wildlife law and you book which can be viewed by clicking here.