BBC 1’s Inside Out programme this evening will feature the plight of the hen harrier.
The programme’s preview notes say the following: “And as hen harriers disappear from northern hills, might Scotland have found a way to stop persecution?”
Er, unless the Scottish Government has finally decided to implement a licensing scheme for so-called ‘sporting estates’, or mandatory prison terms have been brought in for those found guilty of raptor persecution, then the answer has to be a resounding NO! Scotland has not found a way to stop persecution, even though it’s almost sixty years since raptors were given legal protection.
We very much hope that this programme doesn’t try to suggest that vicarious liability is the answer. It isn’t. For vicarious liability to work, the individual who actually committed the crime still has to be identified before his/her employer can be charged. This is virtually impossible in too many cases, especially on the larger sporting estates where there are multiple gamekeepers who will all deny any knowledge of any criminal activity. Identifying the individual criminal would be possible if various legal obstacles were removed (like the admission of covert video footage showing the individual commiting the crime), but so far those with the power to implement such change seem unwilling to make an effort.
Nevertheless, it’s great that the BBC have chosen to highlight the shocking status of the hen harrier, and in a primetime viewing slot, so well done to them for that.
The programme is a regional one (North East and Cumbria) but will be available on iPlayer for those who miss the actual programme.
Click here to go to the Inside Out webpage and follow the links to watch the episode on-line after this evening’s show.