28
Oct
14

Senior police face wildlife crime grilling at Holyrood

RACCEThe Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee (RACCE) will tomorrow hear evidence from two senior Police Scotland officers about the Government’s latest annual report on wildlife crime in Scotland.

The two officers are Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham (Major Crime and Public Protection), and Detective Chief Superintendent Robbie Allan (Wildlife Crime Portfolio Holder).

Following them will be Patrick Hughes, Head of Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

This hearing is fairly routine – the RACCE took evidence last year from the Environment Minister following the publication of the Government’s first report on wildlife crime, and the Minister is set to give evidence again next week (Nov 5th) now that the second annual report has been published.

However, in light of recent events, we hope that the police will be asked to account for their actions on (a) their outrageous statement that the 22 raptors poisoned in the Ross-shire Massacre seven months ago were “not deliberately targeted”, and (b) their staggeringly hypocritical response to the consultation on whether the SSPCA should be given increased investigatory powers.

We’re still awaiting a formal response from the RSPB’s Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson and the SSPCA’s Head of Special Investigations Unit, Mark Rafferty as to whether they agreed with Police Scotland’s claim that the Ross-shire Massacre was ‘accidental’, although they have said that they’ve contacted Police Scotland for an explanation and will respond to blog readers in due course. We can assume then, that neither the RSPB or the SSPCA were party to that Police Scotland press release, even though they are supposedly ‘partners’ in this investigation.

In the meantime, we asked RSPB Scotland Director, Stuart Housden, what his thoughts were. Yesterday he tweeted the following response:

To use a poisoned bait(s), placed in the open is an indiscriminate and illegal act aggravated by the use of a banned chemical“.

It seems that Mr Housden is, quite rightly, not impressed with Police Scotland’s statement. Note also he mentioned ‘poisoned bait(s)’ and ‘a banned chemical’. These are carefully chosen words. If those 22 birds had been killed by the accidental use of rodenticide, as some members of the game-shooting lobby are claiming on social media, Housden would probably have said ‘a controlled substance’, because rodenticides are NOT a ‘banned chemical’. Interesting stuff.

You can watch the RACCE wildlife crime hearing live on Holyrood TV tomorrow. The session starts at 10am although the first item on the agenda is consideration of the South Arran Marine Conservation Order 2014. The wildlife crime session will follow that. You can watch by clicking this link to Committee Room 5.

For those who can’t watch it, we’ll post the minutes from the session on this blog as soon as they become available (usually within 24 hours of the hearing).

UPDATE 29/10/14: For those who missed the live tv broadcast, HERE is the archived video. A full transcript will follow (within 24 hours) plus our analysis of the evidence heard.

UPDATE 4/11/14: The official transcript of the hearing is now available here.

UPDATE 4/11/14: What we learned from the RACCE Committee hearing here.

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3 Responses to “Senior police face wildlife crime grilling at Holyrood”


  1. October 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    The question no one seems to be asking is why is this particular poisoning case being treated differently by the police from the many others we get every year?..is it solely because of the scale of the slaughter and the public scrutiny?..or is there something political lurking here?..Even with their worst mishandling of cases the police would usually have mentioned the poisons name by now?…and therefore [allegedly] have discounted the ridiculous “accidental” claims….Leaving a poisoned bait in the open in such an area is no more an accident than a lorry driver going at 90mph with his eyes shut on the A9.

  2. October 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Let us hope that when Police Scotland speak in relation to raptor persecution they don’t just talk about poisoning incidents. As we all know, raptors in Scotland are also illegally targeted and trapped in cage traps and then bludgeoned to death or trapped on illegal pole traps as well as being shot. Also a number of cage traps which are clearly targeting raptors, specifically goshawks, are found each year in Scotland and also poisoned baits may be discovered set out in the countryside. These never seem to be mentioned by Government when talking about raptor persecution or in their annual wildlife crime statistics.

    • 3 Een Historicus
      October 29, 2014 at 7:20 am

      Very good you mention it. In Germany the next ” Bird of the year” is the goshawk and NABU, a nature-organization, provides information about the nasty cagetraps, how they look like etc. I already saved the phonenumber of the local bird-of-prey- helpgroup, so I´m able to call when I discover something. I think the public knows to little about these things. The Dutch Bird Protection I´m with for 25 years also had a Bird of prey-special last month and had the same subject in their magazine. Provide for example photographs of cagetraps and inform people how they look like. It´s unbelievable if Police Scotland ignores it.


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