The prosecution of wildlife and environmental crime is to be enhanced by the appointment of a team of full-time prosecutors, the Solicitor General Frank Mulholland QC has announced.
A team of three specialists will investigate, mark and prosecute all cases involving crimes against wildlife and the environment in Scotland. Their remit will also include cases of animal cruelty.
The team will be managed by Tom Dysart, Area Procurator Fiscal for Ayrshire, who currently leads the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in this area of law.
They will be supported by Alex Prentice QC, Assistant Principal Advocate Depute. He was appointed Crown Counsel for wildlife cases in February 2010 and will present the Crown case in any criminal appeals.
The appointment of full-time specialists builds on work already undertaken by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to tackle wildlife crime more effectively.
The specialists will be spread across Scotland, but will work together to share knowledge and experience of cases.
The Solicitor General, Frank Mulholland, QC, said:
“COPFS is committed to tackling crimes against Scotland’s precious wildlife and environment.
“Our network of wildlife and environmental prosecutors has already demonstrated the benefits of having specialists deal with this complex area of law.
“We are now appointing a team of three full-time specialists, who will continue to develop the skills and knowledge required to deal with these cases.
“Crimes against our wildlife and environment are important as they affect the environment in which we live, and the legacy we leave to future generations.
“We are aware that serious and organised crime groups may be becoming involved in environmental crime. The new team of prosecutors will work closely with COPFS civil recovery and criminal confiscation specialists.
“I am confident the new team will further enhance the working relationships we already have with investigating agencies, including the police and wildlife organisations.”
Blah blah blah. To read the rest of this press release, follow this link: http://www.crownoffice.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/02/New-team-specialist-prosecutors-be-appointed-handle-Wildlife-and-Environmental-Crime
It would be wonderful if we were all so naive as to believe the content of this press release, word for word. Sadly, I am a little bit too long in the tooth and have developed a somewhat cynical outlook. Interesting to note that the press release did not say WHEN this new team would be appointed. An oversight? Perhaps. Also interesting to note that the success of this new team will depend on the effective investigation of alleged wildlife crime crime offences by ALL the Scottish police forces. That’s not happening now, so why should we believe that will change anytime soon?
Also interesting to note that Alex Prentice QC, mentioned in the press release, has been in post for almost one year now – what measurable impact has he made on the effective prosecution of illegal raptor persecution after 12 months in office? Let’s see what happens with the Moy Estate and Skibo Estate cases – assuming, of course, that they will reach court, and that it will be this year…
Incidentally, a colleague has told me that the Glen Orchy poisoned eagle case was mentioned yesterday at the Scottish Police Wildlife Crime Conference held in Tulliallan. He told me that PC Charlie Everitt, the NWCU’s Investigative Support Officer mentioned it in his round-up of 2010 news. Apparently PC Everitt was using the case as an example of how busy/successful the NWCU has been this last year. He mentioned that the accused had been found guilty of possession of illegal firearms and that he’d received 300 hours community service as a punishment. Oh, three cheers for this “successful” outcome. No mention of the poisoned eagle, nor any forthcoming prosecution case for this criminal offence. Is it any wonder I’m cynical? I hope the COPFS prove me wrong.