Early in 2014, while I was still working with the National Wildlife Crime Unit, I was contacted by Timothy Wheeler of Doclife Films in the USA. Timothy was keen to make a documentary featuring the bizarre hobby in the United Kingdom of egg collecting and knew that since 1993 I had co-ordinated the UK policing operation – Operation Easter – against wild bird egg thieves. He also got in touch with Guy Shorrock of RSPB Investigations at their UK headquarters in Bedfordshire and we both thought that this weird subject would make an fabulous documentary.
Timothy flew over to the National Wildlife Crime Unit where we met. As well as interviews with key players in the fight against wild bird egg theft he was keen to film a search of a suspect’s premises for an egg collection and even to interview an egg thief. We communicated regularly but, since egg theft had reduced markedly since the start of Operation Easter, there was only one search during the period of filming and it was not one at which a film crew could be present.
Timothy and his crew interviewed NWCU staff experienced in egg theft investigations, in particular Andy McWilliam, a former wildlife crime officer with Merseyside Police, and Constable Charlie Everitt of Police Scotland. Both are investigation support officers with NWCU. The crew also interviewed RSPB investigations staff, egg thieves and former egg thieves. I was interviewed on the successes of Operation Easter and the crew filmed a leisurely but interesting chat between Guy Shorrock and I over pints of Guinness in my local village pub.
The UK premiere of this unique film, entitled Poached, will take place at the Cambridge Film Festival on Monday, 7 September at 9 pm, with an additional screening on Tuesday 8 September at 6.45 pm. The trailer for the film has just been launched and can be viewed at the link below. The full documentary is well worth looking out for.