Taking the path of least resistance?: Decision-making in police investigations of illegal wildlife trade
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The article considers the level of professionalism in police investigations of illegal wildlife trade in Norway by identifying factors that influence the decision-making of investigators and prosecutors. It argues that with a lack of achievement targets, weak management of environmental crime investigation, and national laws that prevent the regulation of domestic trade in species covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, investigations become compromised. Inconsistent crime recording impedes the production of reliable statistics on the extent and distribution of violations, which likely has a negative effect on decisions to prioritize such cases. Many investigations result in fines, conditional discharges, or dismissals based on insufficient evidence or lack of prosecutorial capacity. However, the variations in the sample prevent reaching generally applicable conclusions about the overall state of investigations. Arguably, a lack of direction at the policy level leaves investigations vulnerable to systemic weaknesses, as they are largely dependent on the dedication of individual officers and local leaders.