Sometimes the extent of a problem becomes much clearer once it’s visualised.

Today, we’re very pleased to be launching the Raptor Persecution Map Hub – a set of online maps which we believe provide the most complete picture of known, confirmed raptor persecution incidents across the UK.

For some time, we’ve felt the need for a centralised ‘hub’ for raptor persecution data to sit, and be easily accessed. So the Map Hub was born. It’s new, interactive, and pulls everything into one place for the first time. You can search by year, incident type, county and country, visualise the incidents on a map and corresponding graph, and see where the highest concentration of incidents have occurred.

Currently it covers the five-year timespan of 2012-2016, and will be added to each year.

The persecution of birds of prey is a widespread and relentless problem in the UK, and is affecting some of our most iconic and vulnerable species, like hen harriers and golden eagles. It has been a National Wildlife Crime Priority since 2009, but despite this, the criminality continues. Every week the RSPB’s Investigations team get reports of yet another raptor being shot, trapped or poisoned. But for every one report we receive, we know there are many more that go undetected and unreported. As such, these figures only scratch the surface of the true extent of raptor persecution in the UK.

The Map Hub comprises two interactive maps – one which can be filtered by year and incident type, and the other that provides an overview ‘heat map’ of confirmed incidents across the UK. In the heat map, the black and red squares depict areas with the highest density of known incidents. For the timeframe 2012-2016, most of these blackspots occur in upland areas: in North Yorkshire, the Scottish borders and Aberdeenshire. This is consistent with what independent research has revealed about the persecution of birds of prey on land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Currently the Map Hub only covers a five-year period, so these ‘blackspot’ areas may change. Over time the Map Hub will evolve and be added to each year, and should become THE ‘go to’ portal for everyone to see and understand what’s going on where. The maps are designed to be used by everyone, from our law enforcement partners to members of the public.

The more people who are aware of the issues and where they occur, the more empowered we all become to pull together, work in partnership and maximise opportunities for tackling these issues head on. This should all help to prevent and detect raptor persecution, and to bring offenders to justice.

You can view the Raptor Persecution Map Hub here.