'Sentencing wildlife trade offences in England and Wales: consistency, appropriateness and the role of sentencing guidelines’ is a new report commissioned by WWF-UK. The report examines the state of sentencing for wildlife trade offences in England and Wales, and explores the possible benefits of creating sentencing guidelines for such offences.
The research examined 174 cases of illegal wildlife trade between 1986 and 2013 that resulted in convictions in courts of England and Wales and found that:
• Most cases (74%) resulted in non-custodial sentences with only 58% including a fine
• Fines were low - 88% were ≤£2,500, and 70% were less than the wildlife product value
• When custodial sentences were used, the length of imprisonment was short – usually under ten months
Overall, sentencing was considered to be inconsistent and lenient when the high profits and significant harms of offending were taken into account. Our report showed that one of the reasons for the lenient sentences imposed in the UK is that judges and sentencers might not be informed about the seriousness of the crime or the harm caused. We are therefore urging the Sentencing Council to create sentencing guidelines for wildlife trade offences, which would set out clear ways that appropriate sentences can be reached