The government has today confirmed that he NWCU will be provided with £1.204million government funding by Defra and the Home Office until March 2020.
Additionally, Defra is to provide the Unit with up to £29,000 a year over the next four years for specific work to tackle wildlife crime conducted online, which is a growing area of concern.
The specialist unit plays a vital role in investigating crimes against both wildlife in Britain and internationally, and was threatened with closure after the government failed to confirm whether the unit would continue to receive funding after March 2016.
In a statement, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Secretary, Rory Stewart, said: “In recognition of the important contribution the Unit makes to tackling wildlife crime, both at home and abroad, I can confirm that Defra and Home Office Ministers have agreed that their respective departments will each provide the Unit with funding of £136,000 a year for the next four financial years.
“This will give the Unit significant financial stability and enable their vital work to continue until at least 2020. Those contributions will be in addition to the funding central Government provides to police forces in England and Wales to tackle all types of crime (including wildlife crime).”
Speaking to BBC Countryfile Magazine, Chief Inspector Martin Sims, said: “We’re really pleased. Clearly it sets a new precedent and shows commitment from government to tackle wildlife crime.
“The additional funding from Defra only reinforces this. We are incredibly grateful for their support.”
In response to the news, Head of Public Affairs at World Animal Protection, Josh Kaile, said: ‘Today’s announcement that the National Wildlife Crime Unit has secured four years of funding needed for its work is fantastic news for British wildlife. World Animal Protection has been leading the fight to save the National Wildlife Crime Unit for many months and it is clear the Government has now listened to the voice of the UK public.
“It is a victory for animal protection that resources have been secured long-term to fight wildlife crime both home and abroad.”
TV presenter, adventurer and naturalist, Ben Fogle, who supported the campaign to save the Unit, said: “Defra and Home Office Ministers have sent out a clear message through this announcement – wildlife crime will not be tolerated.”