MSP criticizes Scottish Government for procrastination on SSPCA powers

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell has hit out at the Scottish Government for procrastinating over the decision to give the SSPCA increased investigatory powers, which would allow them to tackle a wider suite of wildlife crime.

Yesterday, he issued the following press release:

Mark Ruskell MSP, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has hit out at the Scottish Government for failing to extend the powers of animal charity the SSPCA so they can tackle wildlife crime.

It comes as Holyrood’s Environment Committee, of which Mr Ruskell is a member, warns of “alarming distrust” between groups that tackle wildlife crimes. The Committee has written to the Environment Secretary, urging greater cooperation and improved reporting.

Mark Ruskell, Environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said:

Killing of wildlife such as rare birds of prey is an utter disgrace and it’s clear that the Police are leaving gaps in their investigatory and reporting work, which is increasing frustration amongst wildlife charities. It’s time for the SSPCA’s well established investigatory role to be extended to wildlife crime to bolster Police efforts.

The SSPCA have a respected statutory role in relation to animal welfare cases already. I see no reason why this shouldn’t be extended to wildlife crime. We were promised a decision by the Scottish Government six years ago on the SSPCA’s powers but it has yet to materialise.”


It’s not the first time Mark and his colleague Andy Wightman MSP have applied pressure on this issue – they have tabled a number of parliamentary questions (e.g. see here) and more recently, a parliamentary motion (see here). Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has agreed to announce a decision by the end of June 2017.

The press release also mentions the recent letter from the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee to the Environment Secretary, urging greater partnership working amongst the PAW Scotland Raptor Group. This letter was leaked to the press late last week resulting in a bit of media coverage (e.g. BBC article here). We’re not yet ready to discuss the details of this letter (because it hasn’t yet been published in full) but rest assured we will be returning to this topic in due course because all is not quite as it seems.

9 thoughts on “MSP criticizes Scottish Government for procrastination on SSPCA powers”

  1. Let us be clear how petty and minor this wildlife crime is ? Is it people eaten by man eaters which occurs where prey abundance falls or big predators become lame ? Is the destruction of crops by roaming elephants intent on plundering juicy water mellons and scaring or even on occasion killing farmers in night time encounters ? Is it battles with heavily armed ivory poachers that fund renegade rapists and bandits and terrorists such as Al Shabaab ? The cowardice here re law enforcement is the failure to tell truth to power; it is contemptible compared to the heroics in Africa or the Far East. We walk in shame.

  2. On the matter of Graeme Day’s “plea”, I was surprised to see a discussion included in BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics slot last Sunday, with Gordon Brewer interviewing both Day and Ian Thompson on the matter. For once, BBC Scotland played with a relatively straight bat – other than dealing with Day as the “good guy” and Thompson as a “miscreant”!

    1. Saw the programme. It would have been better if the interviewer, or a researcher, had actually bothered to read the Protocol first.

      The Greens are toothless in all this. The SNP know that they’ll support them on crunch issue and so can safely ignore them otherwise.

      1. Dave – re: protocol for ‘downed’ satellite tagged birds – indeed. Had the interviewer/researcher read the protocol, they would have seen that RSPB is clearly following it, as Ian Thomson said, ‘to the letter’. There is more to this plea from the Env Committee than meets the eye and we will be discussing that in detail in due course.

  3. Peter Plover is to be commended for his putting the persecution of our Birds of Prey into perspective, with relation to the suffering and cruelty being experienced by wildlife in other locations, than in Scotland. Every day and into the late hours, I, and many of my ethical kind, are signing petitions online for humanitarian crises, along with the saving of wildlife, plus making donations to fund courageous people working to save people and animals world wide under fearsome conditions.

    It makes me ashamed and embarrassed that those in political power in my country’s Parliament, will not set an example and thereby create a model for the conservation and humane treatment of wildlife, by giving more powers to our leading animal welfare group, the SSPCA. I can only conclude that those who have dominated our wild landscapes for far too long, and exterminated many a poor creature to protect the perverse killing of game birds, have an undue influence upon that Government. Thanks to the influence of compassion from Mark Ruskell and Andy Wightman from the Green Party, those of humane thinking and doing, have two stalwart allies in the battle to have justice for our persecuted wildlife. I am sure many have experienced what I have had to endure from my MSP, when I have emailed on wildlife and animal welfare matters, by getting the usual waffle dished out as policy for his party on such matters. On phoning, I have got someone trying to make excuses and downplaying the importance of my call. It is the sheer arrogance of such people, to think that their positions gives them licence to demean by interest in making Scotland a more law-abiding country, with regard to the illegal killing of Birds of Prey, and the enforcement of the law against the abuse of animals. It seems that people such as I have to turn to the old rump of the Labour Party in England, who always turned out to support any proposed legislation to protect animals from abuse. In the good old days, Wedgewood Benn (Labour Far Left) and Teddy Taylor (Glasgow Cathcart, Conservative), would, as decent and humane politicians of opposite political views, always join forces in a common compassion against blood sports, such as Badger baiting and Fox hunting. Can some of our politicians of other parties, not develop an outrage, like Messrs Ruskell and Wightman, and break free from the corset of the herd, and assist in the movement to make Scotland a safer place for wild creatures to exist, and to constrain those who will not obey the law, and to remove from influence those who allegedly assist them from their vantage points in law enforcement, prosecution and judicial services?

    1. Thanks for that; I was born in Africa so I have witnessed something of its travails. A couple more rangers died in gun battles the other day and I worry for their dependants; do they receive anything re support, its quite possible nothing at all? I wrote to Prince William on this to try and help the Thin Green Line but he replied that he felt he was doing “enough”. Well indeed ! Rather betrayed himself I felt as he knows Kenya a bit but plainly not very well at all ! On the more general issues facing UK PLC as a long standing Labour Party member I say to the two Greens mentioned here that we need their passion and expertise in the Labour party. Whenever I attend Labour meetings I find myself a lone “Green” voice and very much feel that the existence of the Green party has weakened the delivery of Green policies within Labour on whom we all depend for good environmental policy; the one Tory exception on the broad swathe of policy was John Gummer. I am surprised the SNP does not love this angle re rich tyrannical, oblivious landowners and the feudal servitudes of their surrounding and obsequious courtiers; one might have thought it excellent “grist to their mill” so that is really rather revealing re SNP “radicalism”.

  4. Remember the Scottish government has many landowners as it’s members and the law is in their pockets so not much is going to happen as big money (most of it old ) closes a lot of doors and buys many policemen and women.

    1. Yes, but the Scottish electorate is smaller than down South so it takes less of a swing in the general population to radically change the political framework. Not to mention the Scottish electorate is generally far more politically active and aware than down South. The SNP can’t just sit on its hands and donors and rely on the electorate to shrug and fall in line like the Conservatives can in Westminster. The rising awareness of wildlife crime and the pressure from the Greens (which are growing in their power as an alternative to the Lab-Lib former middle ground opposition and could easily return a much larger number of MSPs in the next election) has to be worrying the traditional wing of The SNP. There is a limit to how much influence they can buy here they are hard up against it. The SNP have been playing for time on this issue for a while now, trying to find a way to bridge that gap between Lairds and the Electorate, but time is now running out. Patience has been lost, and the Greens are applying the kind of hungry pressure the Lab-Lib lot never did. Votes and seats are now officially at stake.

  5. There is no justifiable reason not to give SSPCA the necessary powers to help fight wildlife crime…………….and its FREE

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