Introducing Police Scotland’s “Operation Wingspan”


A year long focus on combatting wildlife crime

I am very happy to share that on 12 October Police Scotland launched “Operation Wingspan”, a year-long focus on wildlife crime. Wildlife crime is major concern in Scotland and this police commitment to raising awareness about it is important and very welcome.

Of particular interest to me and to readers here (I imagine) is the first phase of the operation: a 2 month campaign to raise awareness about the illegal trade in Endangered Species.

The official website of the operation can be found here:

The official poster of the operation can be found here (do share it):

Police Scotland have been kind enough to send me their partner toolkit as well and it think you readers (like me) would be interested in the stated messages and goals of this awareness raising campaign. The show how police are thinking about this issue. So taken from their info kit:

Phase One – CITES

  • The illegal trade in endangered species is happening in Scotland, items are being sold online, in antique/second hand stores and maybe in traditional medicines/remedies.
  • Don’t buy endangered species.
  • Keep your eyes open, if you suspect items are being sold illegally report it to the police.

Wildlife Crime – General

  • Investigating wildlife crime can be demanding, difficult and complex.
  • Scotland’s wildlife habitats cover vast tracts of land, often in remote areas, where the discovery of a suspected offence can be made days or weeks after the event. It is seldom immediately apparent whether wildlife has died as the result of criminality.
  • We want to ensure that we have officers who are experts in the investigation of the wildlife crime in all of its forms, who are trained to the highest level.
  • Tackling wildlife crime is not just about law enforcement, it is about working with partners and the public to raise awareness and to prevent it happening.
  • We are asking members of the public to keep their eyes open, report suspicious activity and help put an end to wildlife crime.
  • Working with our partners is key to preventing crime and to ensure that Scotland’s wildlife is protected, and we will continue to take an active role in developing strategies in partnership to prevent wildlife crime.
  • Police Scotland has a network of dedicated wildlife crime officers across the country with extensive specialist experience.
  • Our new, week-long Wildlife Crime Investigators course, which will run twice a year, builds on our current capability, enhancing the skills and knowledge of our officers in this specialist area of criminal investigation.

So a lot of the messaging here is that combatting wildlife crime requires partnerships between police and members of the public. That the complexity of this kind of crime requires creativity and input from various sectors. That reporting is key.

I look forward to hearing about the results of this operation and will post what I find out here. Meanwhile, here are some of the images Police Scotland has provided to go along with the awareness-raising component of the operation. Do have a look, and share this information on.