Police Scotland has come a long way in recent years on how it tackles wildlife crime, and especially the seven national wildlife crime priorities, which of course includes raptor persecution.
The seven current national priorities are:
Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)
Freshwater pearl mussels
Poaching (deer & fish) and hare coursing
Cyber-enabled wildlife crime
There are still some problems in some aspects of wildlife crime policing but there have been huge improvements in many areas since the publication of two damning Natural Justice reports in 2015 by Scottish Environment LINK (see here and here) and there are now some very determined and proactive officers in post.
One of those is Detective Sergeant William (Billy) Telford, Police Scotland’s National Wildlife Crime Coordinator. He was recently interviewed by Lisa Marley (who produced the award-winning documentary about the mass poisoning of 22 red kites & buzzards on the Black Isle in 2014) discussing Police Scotland’s Operation Wingspan, a year-long campaign to raise awareness about wildlife crime.
The hour-long podcast is hosted by Lisa as part of her series ‘Crimes Against Nature’ and you can listen to it here.
The conversation covers the national wildlife crime priorities and specifically on raptor persecution it includes a discussion about the on-going challenges faced by the police in securing sufficient evidence for a prosecution, alternative enforcement measures when a prosecution isn’t possible (e.g. working with NatureScot to impose General Licence restrictions), and new enforcement opportunities made available with the new increased penalties for certain offences (e.g. covert surveillance on private estates now being an option as some raptor persecution offences are now considered ‘serious’, as reflected by the new sentencing tariffs, thus allowing police officers to seek permission for covert surveillance where previously it was ruled inadmissible).
This podcast is well worth a listen.