SSPCA consultation: get your act together, Scottish Government

sspca logoOne year ago today saw the closure of the Scottish Government’s public consultation on increasing the SSPCA’s investigatory powers in relation to wildlife crime investigations, and particularly in relation to raptor persecution.

We’ve been told, repeatedly, by successive Environment Ministers that tackling raptor persecution is a Scottish Government “key priority”. It’s now been four and a half years since the notion of a public consultation on increasing the SSPCA’s powers was first mooted. Four and a half years of dragging the Government kicking and screaming towards what should be an obvious and easy next step in the fight against the raptor killers. And yet, four and a half years on, still we wait for a decision.

Here’s how the Scottish Government has handled this particular ‘key priority’ –

February 2011: Increased powers for the SSPCA was first suggested by former MSP Peter Peacock as an amendment during the WANE Bill debates. The then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham rejected it as an amendment but suggested a public consultation was in order.

September 2011: Seven months later MSP Elaine Murray lodged a parliamentary motion that further powers for the SSPCA should be considered.

November 2011: Elaine Murray MSP formalised the question in a P&Q session and the next Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson MSP, then promised that the consultation would happen ‘in the first half of 2012’.

September 2012: Nine months later and nothing had happened so we asked Paul Wheelhouse MSP, as the new Environment Minister, when the consultation would take place. The response, in October 2012, was:

The consultation has been delayed by resource pressures but will be brought forward in the near future”.

July 2013: Ten months later and still no sign so we asked the Environment Minister (still Wheelhouse) again. In August 2013, this was the response:

We regret that resource pressures did further delay the public consultation on the extension of SSPCA powers. However, I can confirm that the consultation document will be published later this year”.

September 2013: At a meeting of the PAW Executive Group, Wheelhouse said this:

The consultation on new powers for the SSPCA will be published in October 2013“.

January 2014: In response to one of our blog readers who wrote to the Minister (still Wheelhouse) to ask why the consultation had not yet been published:

We very much regret that resource pressures have caused further delays to the consultation to gain views on the extension of SSPCA powers. It will be published in the near future“.

31 March 2014: Public consultation launched.

1 September 2014: Consultation closed.

22 January 2015: Analysis of consultation responses published by Scottish Government. 233 responses (although 7,256 responses if online petition included – see here).

We were told a decision would come from the new Environment Minister, Dr Aileen Mcleod MSP, “in due course”.

1 September 2015: One year after the consultation closed  and we’re still waiting…


It’s interesting to compare the way the Government has handled the SSPCA consultation with their public consultation on Land Reform. Here’s the timeline for that one:

November 2014: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces her intention to introduce a Land Reform Bill to the Scottish Parliament in 2015.

2 December 2014: Public consultation on Land Reform launched.

10 February 2015: Consultation closed.

15 May 2015: Analysis of consultation responses published by Scottish Government. Over 1269 responses.

22 June 2015: Publication of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill.

So in a little over six months the Government was able to launch a public consultation, analyse the results and produce draft legislation in the form of the Land Reform Bill. That’s quite impressive, isn’t it?

Who still thinks that tackling raptor persecution is a ‘key priority’ for the Scottish Government?

Who would like to know when we might expect a decision on whether the SSPCA will receive increased investigatory powers? Emails to Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod:

12 thoughts on “SSPCA consultation: get your act together, Scottish Government”

  1. Well I’m not surprised at this delay. It’s what we have learned to expect. Even worse, I’m not expecting that we will see the powers granted. For sure, Police Scotland will fight this tooth and nail.

    1. Police Scotland have just received a kicking over their wider responsibilities, leading to the early resignation of the Chief Constable. This is a good time to keep up the pressure on this issue.

  2. If the SSPCA don’t get given additional powers it will be very interesting indeed to see what the government do implement to tackle this problem.

    This issue should not be party political ,surely everyone wants wildlife crime to be reduced.

    SSPCA have staff all over Scotland and granting additional powers is FREE ,what’s not to like (unless you are committing wildlife crime or making it easy for those that are)

  3. E-mail sent. Another thing why does it appear the Cheif Constable of Police Scotland is the only person who seems to have resigned early over the ” shortfalls” of his “Staff” or have others been forced to go ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s