An investigation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Metropolitan Police, prompted by the fatal poisoning of a police dog while on search duties at allotments on White Hart Lane in Tottenham, led today to a conviction, and highlighted the dangers to people, pets and wildlife of the abuse of pesticides.
An Edmonton man, Odesseas Nicolaou, pleaded guilty today at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court to the storage and abuse of unapproved pesticides at the allotment site.
The poisoning occurred on 8 January 2004, when a Police Officer was searching the allotments with his dog, Benson, after a child was reported to have been abducted.
During the search, Benson began to show the symptoms and distress associated with poisoning and died later that day despite veterinary treatment. Tissue samples from Benson were sent, following a post-mortem examination, to the government’s Central Science Laboratory (CSL), and this showed the poison to be a pesticide containing the active ingredient methomyl.
No pesticides containing methomyl have been approved for use in the UK since the end of 1999.
A subsequent search of the allotments by officers from DEFRA’s National Wildlife Management Team and Wildlife Crime Officers from the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit led to the discovery of significant quantities of pesticides containing methomyl which was found both stored in sheds and mixed with food in dishes and trays as poisoned bait.
Paul Butt, a Senior Wildlife Management Adviser with DEFRA said: “As well as being illegal, such abuse of pesticides is extremely dangerous to wildlife, pets and people. Some of the poisons found on the allotments were placed in locations easily accessible not only to wildlife, but also to household pets.
“Local Authorities in London provide disposal schemes for pesticides and we urge householders and allotment owners to use these services to remove dangerous and illegal pesticides from circulation. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Metropolitan Police will investigate any reports of people who may possess such substances illegally and where serious danger is posed by their misuse and abuse. If you suspect illegal poisoning is taking place, please call DEFRA on 0800 321 600.
“People should also remember that while the poisoning of rats and mice is permitted using approved rodenticides, any attempt to poison foxes is illegal. Foxes are an established part of London’s wildlife, and any killing of them will only remove them temporarily from an area since empty territories are rapidly reoccupied by neighbouring animals.
“Abuse of pesticides also puts pet dogs and cats at risk, and dozens die every year as a result, which can cause great shock and distress to owners.”
Following the investigation, Odesseas Nicolaou pleaded guilty to two charges under Regulation 4(5)(a) of the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and Section 16(12)(a) of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, in that he had used pesticide products containing methomyl, which had not been approved for use. He was found to have been laying biscuits laced with methomyl-based pesticide in his greenhouse at the allotment site.
He also pleaded guilty to three charges under Regulation 4(4)(a) of the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and Section 16(12)(a) of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, in that he stored pesticides which had not been approved for storage, namely TPITO-ML, LANEX-90SP and NUDRIN 90SP. He was fined £250 with £55 costs.
On Monday 16 August, another Edmonton man was cautioned for one charge under Section 8b of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 of placing poisoned bait on his allotment and to two charges under the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 involving the storing of pesticides which are not approved in the UK. Although originally charged with these offences, he was cautioned due to his age and ill-health.
Neither man was being accused of the actual poisoning of the police dog.
Non-approved pesticides were seized from other individuals at the site and they have been given advice on the storage of pesticides.
Information about urban foxes and advice on dealing with any problems can be found in DEFRA’s urban fox leaflet which is available online at:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/rds/publications/technical/TAN_08.pdf or from the Wildlife Administration Unit on 0845 601 4523.
To arrange for the disposal of pesticides, contact your local authority or County Council. The service provided by London boroughs is free of charge.
1. The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986, made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, make it an offence to supply, store or use pesticides which are not approved.
2. Section 8b of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 provides that putting edible matter which has been rendered poisonous on any land is an offence unless done for the purpose of destroying insects, other invertebrates, rats, mice and other small ground vermin, where necessary in the interests of public health, agriculture, the preservation of other animals or the manuring of land.
3. It is an offence to use pesticides that are not approved in the UK, no matter where they have come from. Even if the product comes from an EU Member State, and so has been evaluated to EU human safety standards, the product’s effectiveness in the UK climate, on UK crops and on the UK environment will not have been evaluated and so most of the label instructions may not be safe to follow in the UK.
4. Incidents of suspected pesticide poisoning of wildlife, companion animals and beneficial insects should be reported to DEFRA on freephone: 0800 321600.
Outside normal office hours an answer phone service operates.
5. In the United Kingdom, incidents involving the suspected poisoning by pesticides of domestic animals, wildlife and beneficial invertebrates are investigated under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). In England this work is undertaken by Wildlife Management Advisers of the Rural Development Service (RDS) of DEFRA, on behalf of the Pesticide Safety Directorate (PSD) who are responsible for policy with regard to pesticides.
Enquiries into incidents often involves the Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) who undertake post mortem examinations on casualty animals and the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) Wildlife Incident Unit who carry out pesticide analysis on samples obtained during investigations.
The Scheme provides a unique means of post-registration surveillance of pesticide use, so that product approvals can be revised if necessary. In addition, it provides a measure of the success of the pesticide registration process, and helps in the verification and improvement of the risk assessments made in this process.
Evidence from the Scheme may also be used to enforce legislation on the use of pesticides and the protection of humans, food, the environment and animals.
6. The Pesticides Safety Directorate is an Executive Agency of the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). PSD regulates agricultural, horticultural, forestry, food storage and home garden pesticides. Its main functions are to evaluate and process applications for approval of pesticide products for use in Great Britain and provide advice to Government on pesticides policy.