POLICE officers from across the country descended on North Yorkshire to share expertise in tackling wild bird crime.

Around 100 wildlife crime officers and experts from across the UK travelled to the North Yorkshire Police headquarters in Northallerton to share best practice in tackling raptor persecution.

The national seminar was organised by Bedfordshire Police Superintendent and Chair of the National Raptor Persecution Delivery Group, Nick Lyall.

It brought together wildlife crime officers, representatives from the RSPB, Natural England, RSPCA, national parks and others.

North Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable, Phil Cain, said: “It was very positive to see so many people coming together today from across England, Scotland and Wales to discuss how best we can protect our national birds of prey.

“This training day follows the national roll out of our Operation Owl initiative led by Nick Lyall and which further underlines the importance of partnership working and sharing best practice in tackling wildlife crime.”

Operation Owl aims to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity.

Police surveillance checks will also increase on known hot-spots to disrupt offender activity.

North Yorkshire is home to a diverse population of birds of prey but sadly suffers the highest levels of raptor persecution in the country – something which Operation Owl aims to tackle.

Between 2012 and 2017 there were 71 confirmed bird of prey crime incidents in North Yorkshire, nearly three times as many as Powys in Wales, the second worst county during this period.

Evidence suggests these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with many illegal killings going undetected or unreported.

Previous research has shown that illegal killing of birds of prey is associated with land managed for intensive driven grouse shooting, leaving vast areas of our uplands without typical breeding raptors.