Wednesday, 23 May 2007

* No money for Metropolitan Police charm offensive.

Criminals trading in endangered species and wild animals will find London an easier place to do business when the Metropolitan Police cut by half the number of staff working in the London's Wildlife Crime Unit, due to a lack of sponsorship money.

Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, has condemned the cutback in the work of Operation Charm and has asked the Mayor to intervene.

The cut will save £80,000 out of a vast annual budget of £2.5bn. Interpol estimates that the illegal trade in animals is worth over five billion dollars and is second only to drug dealing.

Jenny said:" This is bad news for wildlife and for London's reputation as a capital city. We might consider ourselves a nation of animal lovers, but London is also the capital of the global trade in illegal wildlife products. The trade does us and the world's environment no end of harm. The wildlife unit does a valuable job and is very popular with Londoners. In fact it is too small to do all the work needed - we need more wildlife police, not fewer."

This is the first year in which the Wildlife Crime Unit has been asked to raise 50% of its costs from sponsorship. Failure to raise sufficient money will lead to the Met cutting the two civilian posts in the Unit in order to make a budget saving of £80,000. This will take effect from the 1st October.

Further information about the work of the Wildlife Crime Unit can be found at

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