Next week (Tuesday 10 January 2017, 9.30am) the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee will hear evidence about the Government’s recent (2015) annual wildlife crime report.
In the past, this committee (the RACCE Committee as it was then called) has only taken evidence from Police Scotland, the Crown Office, and the Environment Minister. This year it is very encouraging to see that evidence will be heard from a wider range of stakeholders. That’s definitely progress and we applaud it.
The following are due to give evidence at next week’s hearing:
Gary Aitken, Head of Wildlife & Environmental Crime Unit, COPFS
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson & Detective Chief Superintendant Sean Scott, Police Scotland
Eddie Palmer, Chair, Scottish Badgers
Andy Smith, Committee Member, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association
Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations, RSPB Scotland
Peter Charleston, Conservation Wildlife Crime Officer, Bat Conservation Trust
This evidence hearing should be fascinating. You’ll remember we blogged recently about the Government’s latest wildlife crime report (here) and we were highly critical of it because, according to RSPB Scotland, a number of raptor persecution crimes had been withheld from the report. We argued that as these were confirmed crimes, and they took place over two years ago, there was simply no justification for keeping them a secret and that by withholding these data, it undermined all confidence in the report’s trend analyses and made the whole process of annual reporting nothing more than a meaningless charade. Let’s hope questions are raised about this issue on Tuesday.
You’ll also remember that we blogged about Scottish Badger’s recent complaints to the Justice Committee about how crimes against badgers were being under-recorded (see here). Scottish Badgers reported 160 confirmed badger crimes over a period of one year, whereas Police Scotland recorded only seven crimes in the same period, and none of those proceeded to prosecution. Let’s hope this issue is also raised on Tuesday.
The ECCLR hearing will be available to watch live on Holyrood tv and we’ll post a link to it on Tuesday morning.