Wildlife Crime: The Problems of Enforcement

Melanie Wellsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental and wildlife crime appear recently to be benefitting from an increasing profile amongst those agencies tasked with their control, as well as receiving growing criminological attention. Despite this, those with responsibilities in this area report that it remains marginalised, receiving limited resources and suffering from a lack of political impetus to push such problems higher up the agenda. This is particularly so for those agencies, such as the police, that may be seen to have many more pressing objectives. This discussion paper considers the problems of relying on an enforcement approach to controlling such offences, taking, as an example, those activities that may be termed 'wildlife crime', focusing on the situation in England and Wales. Firstly, the legislative framework that criminalises harm or exploitation of wildlife is presented, alongside the main enforcement methods used. Next, the problems facing an enforcement approach are critically considered, the key issues being: under-resourcing and marginalisation, the large 'dark-figure' of wildlife crime, the possibility of corruption, the lack of seriousness with which such crimes are viewed, and the lack of deterrent effect. Finally, responses to the problems of enforcement are presented, categorised as either methods to improve enforcement or, as the author advocates, methods which are alternatives to enforcement (such as adopting a crime prevention approach). The paper concludes with suggestions for future research in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-148
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


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