Bird Detective. By Peter Robinson. Elm Tree Books, London, 1982.159 pages; 12 photographs. £7.95, 

Peter Robinson is the Senior Investigations Officer of the RSPB and this book tells the birdwatcher at large something of his work. The Investigations Department forms only a small part of the RSPB (only four of over 300 permanent members of staff), but is often in the news. The bird protection laws are complex and impinge on many different interests-- egg-collecting, Keeping birds in captivity (whether song-birds in cages or falcons for flying), taxidermy, selling captive birds and, of course, the activities of what may be hoped to be a minority of gamekeepers unable to operate within the law. The practical problems of detection and enforcement are all here, including both the successful and the unsuccessful prosecutions resulting from long and detailed investigations. Although written as, and succeeding in being, a series of interesting and readable stories, one cannot help but realise the truth of the underlying message: crime involving wild birds is a serious problem that can be combated only by people with expert knowledge. It is just not possible for the ordinary policemen throughout the country to acquire this knowledge and so, for the moment, the RSPB Investigations Department has had to take on this role countrywide. What is really needed, but which the nation apparently cannot afford, is a proper system of enforcement to go with the laws (such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act) passed by Parliament. For the moment, that finance comes from the RSPB. You can help the cause by buying this book--for the RSPB benefits from its sale. You will get, as Prince Charles says in his Foreword, 'real-life detective stories, which make excellent reading'. 

Issue 7
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