Scottish Government launches poisons disposal scheme

PoisonThe Scottish Government has today launched it’s promised ‘pesticides disposal scheme’ – a free service allowing those who are still in possession of these banned substances an opportunity to get rid of them without fear of consequence.

This scheme was initiated by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse whilst he was still in office.

We have mixed views about the scheme.

On the one hand, it’s a proactive approach to rid Scotland of highly toxic substances that are still being used, illegally, with devastating effect on some of our raptor species, notably golden eagles, red kites, peregrines and buzzards. Only yesterday we blogged about the latest victim  -a poisoned peregrine found on a grouse moor (see here).

On the other hand, many of these poisons have been banned for years, and even being in possession of them has been an offence since 2005 (Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005), so why, ten years later, are the criminals who are still in possession of these poisons being given yet another opportunity to escape justice?

The bigger concern of these two views undoubtedly has to be that these poisons need to be removed, and that concern outweighs the lesser concern that the criminals won’t be punished, so from that perspective we welcome the new scheme.

However, what we want (expect) to see as a result of the scheme is that anybody caught with these poisons after the scheme has ended MUST be given a more serious sentence for their crime. We fully expect that even after this scheme has ended, there will still be substantial amounts of these poisons being held illegally. Why? Because the criminals who hold and use these poisons have been doing so for a long, long time, despite the legislation and despite previous amnesties, because they know there’s a good chance that they’ll get away with it. And for those who do get caught, the penalty is usually so ineffectual that the risk was worth taking anyway. Those people, when caught, must feel the full force of the law and not some pathetic fine or community service order – nothing less than a mandatory custodial sentence will do.

It’s not clear for how long the free disposal scheme will run, other than a quote from the current Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, that the scheme will be “short-lived”.

Those wishing to dispose of their banned poisons via this scheme can do so without fear of prosecution, and without their personal details being given to the authorities. The Government will be collecting data about the uptake of the scheme, but these data will be limited to the type and number of poisons handed in, the cost of the scheme, and only the first three letters of the postcode from where the poisons have been collected.

As this is a free and confidential service, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for anyone to still be in possession of these poisons by the time the scheme ends. Mind you, it’s been that way for the past decade and yet….

Scottish Government press release here

Details about how to use the free disposal service here

Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme here

A list of the poisons that will be accepted by the scheme and a description of what they look like and some common generic names here

18 thoughts on “Scottish Government launches poisons disposal scheme”

  1. Has never worked before [in stopping wildlife poisoning, which has to be the only real measure of “success”] so why should it do so now?…every defence lawyer will use this to aid his poisoning client by confusing sheriff’s over the amnesty. This is just the same old appeasement – something all sides can sign up to but will actually turn the spotlight away from the criminals.Anyone with half a brain in the enforcement community knows that the answer lies in more and better quality prosecutions, not this sidelining of the issue.

  2. Hopefully by re-introducing this scheme, it does mean that the Scottish Government – which I do agree is the most serious in the UK in combating wildlife crime – will be substantially tougher on wildlife criminals in the future.

  3. But it wont make any difference Chris – this is actually a poke in the eye to all those politicians who supported and helped get through the excellent legislation which we have in Scotland. This is a statement that its not working. So where is the bottleneck?..As has been stated time and again – including just last week with the excellent LINK report – its in a lack of quality enforcement action. This pathetic amnesty is just window dressing.

    1. Dave, I don’t believe it will stop the illegal killings, however I do follow the belief that after the disposal scheme ends, any criminal should be on the receiving end of far greater penalties (hopefully maximum penalties), and it could just pave the way for more prosecutions under VL laws.

      I think it is another important step forward, and it could be the Scottish Government giving the shooting industry one final chance to get their industry in order, as once the scheme ends, the killers will have no excuse whatsoever, with the same applying to their employers. It remains to be seen whether proper enforcement of our laws will be carried out, but I do think there could be some interesting times ahead.

      1. The bigger worry is for when “Scottish” Labour get back into power and drop it because (a) they don’t give a damn anyway; and (b) it was an SNP initiative and “Scottish” Labour oppose anything the SNP come up with on basic principle. They drop wildlife crime and raptor persecution down the back of the Holyrood sofa and get back to privatisations and doing whatever Westminster tells them.

        1. You are quite correct with assertions a and b (especially b!), but I can’t see the local branch of the UK Labour party getting back in for quite some time. I could be wrong on that, but I do believe “Scottish” Labour has followed the LibDems in committing political suicide by allying themselves with the Tories. Not only did they form this alliance, but some of their members, and elected representatives, are actively promoting a Tory vote in an effort to keep out the SNP in the General Election.

          I don’t think that will go down well with the majority of Scottish residents, and it will be remembered for a very long time!

    2. I certainly bow to your to your superior knowledge and experience Dave (I’ve read your excellent book). I suppose that I am just hoping that with a new minister in charge, that she personally would just like to give this one more try, after which she will be completely ruthless with the criminals. Probably I am just being naïve!

  4. Just like knife amnesties. An opportunity to get rid of something that the owner has no intention of using again. In practice the net effect on raptor killing will be nil.

  5. I agree. This is one of those schemes which admits that we all know the keepies and farmers are at it, but we’re giving them a safe way out without them having to admit it. It must be followed up by a real hammer blow and real gaol time for anyone caught when it finishes. There can be no more accepting the old lie of “it was an old bucket that I didn’t know what to do with it” excuse (not the least because as everyone knows, the way to handle that old bucket if you really wanted to get rid of it was to find a roadside skip and dump it in, not legal but never given a damn about short of a corpse in one). With these schemes, it is all about the follow through.

  6. I see that SGA have announced their AGM (partnered by Ford wtf !!!?). They are going have a talk on…”veterinary investigations and toxicology”….. So that will be about poisons and how to avoid getting caught?

    Surely the Scottish Governments confidential disposal wagon could be parked outside for the day? Maybe that would be a bad idea as it would probably turn into a xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

    [Ed: Amusing as that last line was, we’ve chosen not to publish it]

    1. The Scottish Government considered providing a disposal wagon for the event, but Stobbart’s could not guarantee that their entire fleet would be available.

  7. The SGA keep telling us how they are committed to stamping out wildlife crime. Why then, have they failed to bring this scheme to their member’s attention?
    News of this scheme has appreared in various online farming articles, but strangely none at all from the game industry.
    Very telling indeed.

  8. I apologise. I had a look at their website and couldn’t see anything but didn’t check their social media. I’m glad to hear they have encouraged their members to hand in their illegal substances, but it will be very interesting to see how much is actually given over, and where from.
    I will check my facts more carefully next time.

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