Raptor persecution data withheld from Scot Gov’s latest annual wildlife crime report

wildlife-crime-review-2015The Scottish Government has today published its latest Annual Wildlife Crime Report – the 4th one since it became a statutory obligation under the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. The current report is entitled the ‘2015’ report, but it actually refers to wildlife crimes recorded from April 2014 to March 2015.

Just like last year (see here), this publication has been issued under a misleading headline, this time with the Government proclaiming a ‘Five year drop in wildlife crime’ (see Scot Gov press release here).

The report provides data on each of the national wildlife crime priority areas, including raptor persecution, but don’t bother wasting any time trying to draw conclusions from these data because it turns out, some has been withheld.

According to a press release by RSPB Scotland on today’s report (here), they say “With regard to raptor persecution incidents, we recognise that a number of confirmed victims of crime are not included in the report as police investigations continue“.

This withholding of data is becoming a regular feature of wildlife crime reporting in Scotland.  We blogged about it earlier this year when PAW Scotland published the ‘official’ 2015 raptor persecution report, with a load of information deliberately withheld (see here).

As we said then, what’s the point of publishing some of the data but keeping the rest secret? It completely undermines any confidence in the report’s findings and turns this annual reporting into a meaningless and farcical charade.

It’s not clear whether the raptor persecution data has been withheld by Police Scotland or by the Scottish Government, or by both. If this withheld information relates to confirmed victims of crime, as RSPB Scotland suggests, there’s absolutely no excuse to keep it secret from the public, especially as these crimes took place around two years ago. When can we expect these crimes to be made public? Next year? 2050? Never?

Let’s hope this issue is raised when the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee comes to scrutinise the annual report as they have in previous years. Let’s also hope that this time, the ECCLR invites evidence from a wider circle of contributors, such as RSPB Scotland, SSPCA, Scottish Badgers etc, instead of just listening to the thoughts of Police Scotland, COPFS and the Environment Minister. That way we might get a better idea of the extent of wildlife crime rather than Police Scotland’s estimation of it, which is apparently based on a senior officer’s ‘feeling’ rather than on hard facts (see here).

Download the report here: wildlife-crime-in-scotland-2015-annual-report


12 Responses to “Raptor persecution data withheld from Scot Gov’s latest annual wildlife crime report”

  1. 1 Doug Malpus
    November 25, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Yet another coverup to protect those that enjoy killing, have lots of money and the power to corrupt.


  2. 2 crypticmirror
    November 25, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    And just like that, all the goodwill from yesterday’s beaver news is gone up the Swanee.

  3. November 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Re the police chief “feelgood factor” – I was forever hearing back in the 1980s that raptor persecution was a thing of the past, just practiced by a few old diehards…Oh Really!!?…..If it wasnt for the voluntary sector, including yourselves, we would be living in a world of utopian ignorance. The police [at the top] are never going to admit they cant cope with wildlife crime, they just wish it would all go away….

  4. November 26, 2016 at 1:19 am

    “If you cant say something nice, dont say nothing at all.” Its not a report….its PR.

  5. 5 Iain Gibson
    November 26, 2016 at 4:14 am

    We’re living in strange times, and we’re not the only interest group in the country to think so. ‘Post-truth’ is not just a political phenomenon. One of the problems recurring frequently is the definition of the term ‘expert.’ Certain people in high office, whether it be local government or the civil service, even the judiciary, have developed a strange disdain for ‘so-called experts’, but the reason for this is not entirely clear and provokes food for thought. One factor involved must surely be the number of self-proclaimed experts around these days (of which I’ve been accused myself by one pro-shooter on this blog!), but also examples like the police chief quoted here as saying… “The scientific or expert evidence about the absence of certain species appears to be mixed. I am not an expert in that and I am happy to listen to experts when they offer a view. ” The problem with his approach and that of many other people working in the justice system is that they wouldn’t know an expert if they ran one over. The perfect example of that was the way in which moorland management ‘experts’ (usually just rich Tory MPs who enjoyed a bit of shooting) were given greater credence than ‘Mr Avery’ (actually Dr Mark Avery PhD) on the biology of the Hen Harrier, not to mention the negative impacts of moor burning as identified by environmental scientists. Three MPs gave excellent evidence supporting the petition to ban driven grouse shooting, but their knowledge and eloquence counted for nothing up against five times that number of Tories spouting their own ‘expertise’ on the matter, including such gems as “harriers are doing terrifically well on English grouse moors.”

  6. 6 Tony Warburton MBE
    November 28, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    iain – let me help. ‘X’ means ‘an unknown quantity’. A Spurt’ is ‘a drip under pressure’. Hence an ‘expert’ is an unknown drip under pressure – a burgeoning species these days! Incidentally RPUK, I finally got my replies from the Moorland Association and Wildlife Estates Scotland re the memberships of the Newlands Estate, but I wont bore you with what they said – you have seen, heard, read and published them all before, ad infinitum. And surprise surprise – the National Gamekeepers Association didn’t respond to my query re Billy Dick’s possible membership of their tribe. What a shock! Do you think this suggests something!!! Surely not!

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