4th March 2008

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) has been awarded 'Partner of the Year' by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW). PAW's aim is to raise awareness about the growing problem of wildlife crime and of the need for tough enforcement action where it's needed.

Crimes against bats and their roosts are incredibly damaging to the conservation of bats in the UK. The destruction of just one bat roost can lead to the loss of hundreds of bats, which can take many years to recover. Latest figures reveal almost 70% of bat crime is committed by the building sector.

PAW brings together the Police, HM Revenue and Customs, and representatives of Government Departments and voluntary bodies, with an interest in wildlife law enforcement. It provides opportunities for statutory and non-Government organisations to work together to combat wildlife crime, and supports the network of Police Wildlife Crime Officers (PWCOs) and HM Revenue and Customs Officers.

The award was accepted by Alison Rasey, Investigations Officer at BCT, who said: "BCT is honoured to accept this award - it is a real tribute to bat volunteers across the UK who work incredibly hard to ensure bats and their habitats are protected."

Ms Rasey said much of the valuable work undertaken within the area of wildlife crime would not be possible without the support of the Partnership, and BCT hopes that PAW continues to go from strength to strength.

Tribute was paid to BCT's work, which includes assisting the police when investigating a number of offences, recording bat-related crime, and helping to educate the general public and professionals who may come across bats in their work in order to try to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. Prevention of crime is always preferred to prosecution.

Declining bat populations made it necessary to give legal protection to all UK bats and their roosting places, whether they are in residence at the time or not. This protection also makes it an offence to block roost entrance and exit holes without first obtaining formal authorisation.

Kelvin Jones, the National Wildlife Crime Unit's (NWCU) Operation Bat Project Officer, must also take recognition for this award. He has been in post since January 2007 and advises and encourages the police to take cases forward. Since January 2007, there has been a significant rise in the number of bat related crime incidents taken forward to a successful prosecution.

For further information:Jaime EasthamBat Conservation Trust T: 0207 501 3635 E: jeastham@bats.org.uk

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