The Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee has published its Stage 1 report on the proposed Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections & Powers) (Scotland) Bill.
This 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 previous blog).
The ECCLR Committee has held a number of evidence sessions as this Bill passes through Parliamentary scrutiny at Stage 1, including this one where RPUK participated with a number of other organisations and whilst there was certainly some common ground, there was also a lame attempt by BASC to portray the General Licence restriction as an effective sanction against wildlife crime (see here).
The ECCLR Committee’s Stage 1 report reveals some careful and insightful thought on a number of issues and asks some probing questions of the Scottish Government to be answered before the Bill reaches Stage 2 and also makes several recommendations. Of particular interest to us are questions and recommendations on the consistency of categorising wildlife crimes, plans for further resources and/or collaboration on wildlife crime investigations, a full evaluation of the failed Police Special Constables scheme in the Cairngorms National Park, consideration (again) of increased powers for the Scottish SPCA, the need for pre-sentencing impact statements, the concept of vicarious liability being extended to other wildlife crimes, the need for more clarity and guidance from the Scottish Government and Crown Office on what is required for a vicarious liability prosecution, whether the principle of the Victims Right to Review could be extended to wildlife NGOs acting in the public interest to challenge decisions not to prosecute, more public information to be made available to help understand why video evidence is sometimes (too often) deemed inadmissible, whether General Licence restrictions are as effective as they could be and why the restriction is lifted during the appeal process, and the Government’s anticipated response to the Werritty Review.
There’s a lot of good stuff here and it’s well worth having a read of the Committee’s Stage 1 report, available to download here: ECCLRS0520R1