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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
New base for wildlife crime unit
Eagle in flight
The wildlife crime unit will protect endangered wildlife
The UK's National Wildlife Crime Unit is to move from London to East Lothian, it has been confirmed.

The unit tackles illegal trade and threats to endangered species, as well as supporting customs officers.

Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Paddy Tomkins, played a key role in the move.

He offered the unit a new home after reorganisation of the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) in London.

About 10 specialist officers are expected to be working out of East Lothian within the next few months.

Mr Tomkins, who is the lead officer on wildlife crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said the office would be based at North Berwick police station.

"I am delighted that the National Wildlife Crime Unit will be based in Scotland, and more particularly in our force area.

I am thrilled that ministers in Edinburgh and London have agreed to Lothian and Borders Police providing a home for the unit
Chief Constable Paddy Tomkins
Lothian and Borders Police

"The work that the unit has done up until now has been exceptionally important.

"The significance of this kind of crime can not be under estimated. It has a direct impact in the economic, environmental and cultural lives of communities and that is especially true in Scotland."

He added: "I am thrilled that ministers in Edinburgh and London have agreed to Lothian and Borders Police providing a home for the unit.

"I am confident that it will continue to be successful in dealing with serious offenders in wildlife crime, poaching, smuggling and other activities that threaten endangered species."

There are now about 100 wildlife crime officers across Scotland.

Rhona Brankin, deputy environment and rural development minister said: "I am thrilled that the National Wildlife Crime Unit will now be based in North Berwick and will continue to address crime throughout the UK.

"In Scotland we have some very diverse and outstanding wildlife, and wildlife crime threatens not only our biodiversity and our enjoyment of nature, but also a component of our economy."

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