Dead Silence

Last week’s police raid on a sporting estate in Perthshire was widely reported in the media. We were told that three week’s earlier, two poisoned buzzards and poisoned bait had been discovered on the estate, and that this had led to the issuing of a police warrant to search various properties on the estate. What we weren’t told was the name of the estate in question. Was this omission just a genuine oversight? Apparently not. According to an article published in The Courier on 8 April 2011, Tayside Police ‘refused to disclose the exact location of the estate’. This suggests that the journalist from The Courier had specifically asked for the name of the Estate but Tayside Police decided to keep it a secret. Courier article here: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/Living/Outdoors/article/12730/inquiry-into-discovery-of-poisoned-birds-of-prey-on-a-perthshire-estate-continues.html

Similarly, the other agencies involved with the raid (reported to be the RSPB, National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Scottish Government Rural Payment Inspections Directorate) have remained tight-lipped about the operation.

Let’s contrast this silence with the report of another police raid that Tayside Police undertook last week. According to a news item on the Tayside Police website, they raided six properties across Dundee last Friday ‘as part of a pre-planned operation aimed at disrupting a serious and organised crime group believed to be involved in a number of offences including drug dealing, money laundering and mortgage fraud’. Were they silent about the locations of the raids and the on-going inquiries? Were they heck. They named the actual streets where these properties were located, the type of property searched and even disclosed what they’d found so far. See news item here: http://www.tayside.police.uk/default.aspx.locid-013new0k8.Lang-EN.htm

Let’s also contrast the silence with the reporting of the two poisoned peregrines that were discovered at the base of a block of flats in Motherwell in February. The SSPCA, who are leading that particular investigation, immediately released the location of where those poisoned birds had been found. And quite right too. See their press release here: http://www.scottishspca.org/news/571_warning-after-falcons-poisoned

So, why would Tayside Police, the RSPB, NWCU and SGRPID not want to reveal the name of the Estate where they have discovered poisoned birds and poisoned bait? They might argue that revealing the Estate’s name is likely to defeat the ends of justice, for example, that evidence could be destroyed or removed. That would be a perfectly legitimate concern BEFORE the raid took place, but their news release was made AFTER the raid and AFTER they had collected potential evidence, so that particular argument doesn’t wash here.

This silence is also an interesting strategy considering the recent launch of the Tayside Policing Plan 2011-2014 (available for download on the Tayside Police website). This Policing Plan sets out the Force’s ‘high level aims for serving and supporting local communities, the local economy and the environment over the next three years. The plan focuses on two Community Priorities – Public Safety and Public Reassurance’. So, how does keeping quiet about the location of potentially lethal poison (which could kill humans and pets, as well as the wildlife it has already killed), fit in with this new Policing Plan? Does this secrecy benefit public safety? Does this secrecy benefit public reassurance? That’s for the local community to decide – although hang on, they can’t decide because they haven’t been told that this poison was found within their community.

Imagine if Tayside Police had discovered a car bomb in, say, Perth town centre. Would they be so coy about revealing the location? Would we see a press release along the lines of ‘We have discovered a car bomb but we’re not telling you where it is and we’re keeping its location a secret’?

I think not. It would obviously be in the public’s interest to be informed about such a threat. So why does Tayside Police and these agencies think that it’s ok not to tell the public where poisoned birds and poisoned bait has been discovered, regardless of whether they can or cannot identify the individual who laid the bait? It’s all very curious.

3 Responses to “Dead Silence”

  1. 1 Dave Dick
    April 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    No argument here…except to say that the non Police agencies involved have no choice but to follow police instructions on confidentiality, at this stage – or the police would stop working with them.Which would lead to even pooorer investigations than weve been seeing recently….its the same old trap…they call it a “partnership”.

    While were on the subject – did anyone ever explain why the alleged poison buzzard in North-East Fife had its exact location revealed in a police “partnership” press release…when there was no known cause of death….and did it turn out to have been poisoned?…or was it all a cynical publicity stunt to promote a new “partnership”, by naming an area with no large landowning connection?….this is why people dont trust these partnerships.

  2. April 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks Dave. That explains the positions of the RSPB, NWCU and SGRPID. But it doesn’t explain how the SSPCA can manage to release location details and presumably they also work in so-called ‘partnership’ with the different police forces?

    Re: the buzzard in North-East Fife. There hasn’t been any published report on this incident, and SASA appear to have gone into hibernation – no updates on their animal poisoning reports for several months! All quite telling really.

  3. 3 Dave Dick
    April 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I think we can assume then, that the Fife incident was a complete sham…and whoever owns or manages the wood mentioned – [Im not going to repeat the possible libel], has genuine grounds for complaint against the Police and others.

    An incident like that is extremely damaging to any remaining shred of credibility that Fife Police may retain over the investigation of wildlife crime.

    As this site repeatedly shows, the flushing out of unnecessary and occasionally “politically” motivated, burying of full information on poisoning and other estate-based wildlife crime is a sad necessity – to show how poor the rate of investigative and court success really is…..but the invention of crimes as publicity generators is just as damaging to any real attempt to stop these large scale, widespread persistent serious crimes.

    When real investigations with real court results were taking place in the 1990s [before all the “partnership” nonsense] the supporters of wildlife criminals in the shooting industry repeatedly tried to discredit us by claiming that such crimes were not happening. The open publishing of site information and always, always…the proper scientific pronunciation on cause of death….shut them up. This kind of amateur nonsense in Fife would never have been tolerated.

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