Raptor Persecution UK was one of a number of organisations giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee last week on the proposed increase in penalties for wildlife crime.
The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on 30th September 2019 (see here for associated docs) and will, amongst other things, increase the maximum available penalties for the most serious animal welfare and wildlife offences.
See here for an earlier blog on this subject.
The Bill is currently at Stage 1 and the ECCLR Committee has been taking evidence from a wide range of authorities and organisations. Last Tuesday saw representatives from the grouse shooting industry, conservation organisations, Police Scotland, SNH and the Crown Office sharing their opinions in an informal round-table discussion:
The transcript can be read here: ECCLR report_10Dec2019
The archived video can be watched here
We’ll come back to some of the detail of this discussion in further blogs, particularly about some of the claims made by BASC in relation to the supposed effectiveness of general licence restrictions, where the evidence simply doesn’t support some of the assertions made.
We’ll also be considering the claim from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association that “A five-year jail term will mean that more people will go to jail than has been previously the case“. Really? Why’s that, then? Are more gamekeepers at it than are currently being caught? Surely not. And how will an increased penalty mean more offenders are jailed? You’ve got to catch them first and then have sufficient evidence to get them in to court.
This Bill is very welcome as it stands, but perhaps more importantly it also has the potential to include some pretty useful amendments as it progresses through Parliament. Of particular interest to us is that increased powers for the SSPCA is back on the table. Given the complete failure of the Scottish Government’s alternative course of action (Police Special Constables in the Cairngorms National Park – a scheme that failed to report a single wildlife crime), it seems the timing is just right.
Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon will be giving evidence to the ECCLR Committee tomorrow and will no doubt face questions about some of the proposals already heard.