Martin Sims
Chief Inspector Martin Sims is head of the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

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The National Wildlife Crime Unit, led by Chief Inspector Martin Sims, tackles crimes ranging from the killing of birds to the smuggling of modern elephant ivory.

Now 10 years old, the NWCU functions as a police intelligence unit providing operational support to law enforcement around the UK and in 2015, was responsible for the seizure of more than 400 items prohibited under CITES.

Sims, a serving Sussex police officer, and his colleague Alan Roberts, NWCU’s Investigative Support Officer, will take delegates at the seminar on 19 January through a recent prosecution under CITES, step by step, outlining how such an outcome can be avoided.

“We can do more to prevent rather than to detect, which is why myself and Alan Roberts, whose knowledge of CITES is second to none, are pleased to speak at ATG’s Seminar on CITES and its audience of auctioneers and dealers in January,” Sims said. 

ATG has partnered with auctioneer body SoFAA and dealer organisation the British Antiques Dealers' Association to host the seminar on 19 January at County Hall in Westminster, London. 

Sims added: “The issue for us is to ensure that dealers of antique materials covered by CITES check the provenance of what they are trading and if need be, apply for an ‘Article 10’ certificate to make any trade legally compliant.”

High profile pro-ban campaign

The NWCU’s agreement to speak at ATG’s seminar comes as BBC One’s Saving Africa’s Elephants documentary concluded on Monday 31 October with a call to ban all trade in ivory, singling out “stockpiles of antique ivory” being sold to buyers in Asia as being part of the problem.

The UK government in September announced that traders in antique ivory will in future have to prove its pre-March 1947 [the CITES cut-off date] provenance but agreed the industry could influence the form that such proof will take.

The NWCU’s staff of 12 works closely with Interpol to combat illegal wildlife trade. It is funded by DEFRA, the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Scottish government and the Northern Ireland administration.

To avail of the super-early bird offer on attending the seminar on 19 January 2017, click here