More wildlife crime police officers for Scotland

Police Scotland logoPolice Scotland has announced that more than 100 police officers will receive specialist training to tackle wildlife crime (see here).

The officers will attend a ‘new advanced training course’ next month which will result in the 100+ officers taking up Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer posts across all 14 Force divisions.

It’s not clear whether these positions will be full-time or part-time, but either way, it is a very welcome move.

In February, two reports published by Scottish Environment LINK highlighted the problem of wildlife crime enforcement in Scotland and one of the issues raised was a lack of trained police officers, resulting in as many as up to one third of reported wildlife crimes remaining un-investigated (see here and here).

Now, in addition to these extra trained police officers, what about an increase in investigatory powers for the SSPCA….still waiting for a decision almost one year after the public consultation ended.

12 thoughts on “More wildlife crime police officers for Scotland”

  1. I just hope this announcement is not a prelude to Police Scotland announcing that they now have enough officers and the government not giving extra powers to SSPCA.

  2. Hopefully if any officers forward themselves for this they’ll be vetted to see if they have shooting interests – one of RPS’s commentators noted before that many putting themselves forward to be WCOs in one area were keen shooters. However, a step forward and should send out a message to the estates.

  3. That’s really good news, perhaps they are starting to listen to the people. I’m staying in the Cairngorms in October and would hope to see lots of Wildlife,which is why I’m taking a holiday there. It’s a shame England doesn’t follow suit. Wales seem to be on the ball having a very successful Wildlife Crime Team dedicated to Wildlife crime. The Government must realise the people are not going to put up with illegal killing anymore. The wildlife has as much right if not more to live on this planet.

    1. I wish you luck with your wildlife spotting Julie. I live in the Cairngorms, and as each year passes there are fewer raptors to be seen. Maybe it is because we are surrounded by killing estates and their gamekeepers.

  4. Now we just need the judicial people to go on some training re applying a punishment that will deter the criminals when they are prosecuted!

  5. The problem has seldom been about there not being enough trained officers [NB Large numbers were trained by RSPB/SNH and SSPCA staff in the past] ..its about officers being given enough time to carry out proper investigations..and doing it with a “can do” attitude, backed up by senior officers…Like with Alex Milne’s comment above, I worry that this is a pre-emptive strike to soften the blow of no more powers for SSPCA..which would be disastrous…As for the comment about this being a message to the estates…sorry, this isnt the right message, the estates have had little or no problem in neutralising the police in the past, particularly when the police are involved in “sport” shooting themselves. These cases need neutral outside investigators.

  6. I believe there are too many officers turning a blind eye to wildlife crime. Perhaps they are persuaded by favours or threats.
    Whichever it is, it needs stopping by having police officers with the determination to catch the criminals and protect our wildlife.

  7. Well you all know what has happened in the last 18 months in Bowland. A bit of information about the local Police Wildlife Crime Officers – all gleaned in a few minutes from the public domain (internet):-

    PC Andrew Massingham – Wildlife Crime Officer, Lancs Police “Part time manufacturer of custom built firearms for long range Target disciplines, Deer Management, Tactical Competition and Vermin Control. Manufacturer of Custom Ammunition, Load Development and specialist ammunition. Service is not advertised.” From his Linkedin account. Not surprising he doesn’t advertise the service.

    PC Carl Chew – Wildlife Crime Officer, Lancs Police. From his twitter site, he is a shooter (wallpaper – black labs etc) retweeting Duncan Thomas (ex-police Wildlife Crime Officer, now BASC ). See cjchewster on Twitter.

    Mark Thomas – civilian attached to Lancs Police Wildlife Crime Unit from 2011. Farming and Gamekeeping background.

    Also, members of one of the shooting syndicates in Bowland (on United Utilities land) include Duncan Thomas, ex-Lancs Police Wildlife Crime Officer and now NW representative for BASC. Another is Phil Gunning, ex-Police Inspector, Lancs Constabulary and founder of a Police Masonic Lodge.

    I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    Although the Lancs. Police have arrested 4 people last week for, I think, [Ed: allegedly] vandalising or stealing legal (!) traps on the Abbeystead (Duke of Westminster) and Bleasdale (?) shooting estates. They are also quite good at dealing with poachers. But nothing ever on the “disappearance” of Sky & Hope last year & 4 male hen harriers this year.

    So as Dave Dick infers, it’s not the numbers that matter but the commitment to wildlife protection as opposed to protecting the interests of the shooting estates. Maybe Scotland will fare better than Lancashire – I hope so.

  8. Cant think of any other job the gives you one days training and claims you are trained, McDonalds gives more training to flip burgers.

    You are they kiddin.

    The police have become part of the wildlife crime problem.

  9. It’s looking like a “cop out” for not granting the SSPCA the powers to investigate wildlife crime. The SSPCA would do a serious job, the cops would be tasked with too many other duties to make a ny creditable difference. Not their fault, the blame lies with the Scottish Government.

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