Another question on withheld raptor persecution data

mark-ruskellWe’ve talked quite a bit on the issue of withheld raptor crime data from the Scottish Government’s 2015 annual Wildlife Crime report. We blogged about it when the report was published in November 2016 (here) and again earlier this month when Mark Ruskell MSP asked for an explanation from Police Scotland during the recent ECCLR Committee hearing on wildlife crime (see here).

This issue was raised again on Thursday during a general question session at Holyrood. The topic of ‘crime recording’ was being discussed and Mark Ruskell took the opportunity to ask a supplementary question:

“The cabinet secretary might be aware that “Wildlife Crime in Scotland—2015 Annual Report” came under scrutiny recently in the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee. It was revealed that a number of bird of prey persecution incidents from two years ago were withheld from the report despite details from other sources being in the public domain. Will the cabinet secretary undertake to investigate why that information was withheld, and will he say what Police Scotland can do to ensure that wildlife crime reporting is transparent, accurate and has the confidence of the public?”

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, responded as follows:

“Classification and the way issues are recorded in the statistics are developed by statisticians, and the approach must comply with the code of practice that is applied to recording of crime statistics. I have no doubt that if the Scottish crime recording board believes that there is a need for any alterations, it can consider that issue, as we move forward with any changes that could take place. However, I will ensure that Mark Ruskell receives a full and detailed response on the specific nature of wildlife crimes”.

The withholding of the raptor persecution data probably wasn’t due to a faulty classification system developed by statisticians. The missing data included incidents that were very clearly crimes – there’s no ambiguity about whether 4 shot buzzards, a trap containing a live pigeon decoy, and spring traps set in the open, were crimes. They obviously were crimes, even though the police-led investigation didn’t identify the person(s) responsible for those crimes.

We await Police Scotland’s explanation for why these crimes were withheld from the Government’s annual report.

Thanks to Mark Ruskell MSP (Scottish Greens, Mid Scotland & Fife) for his persistence on this issue.


8 Responses to “Another question on withheld raptor persecution data”

  1. 1 I C T
    January 22, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Thanks again Mark. Thanks again the Scottish Greens

  2. January 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    The real question is “were these crimes withheld from that report so that certain persons could claim a drop in wildlife crime”?….for political reasons..in an attempt to sway the scottish parliament…on, for instance the issue of licensing for shooting estates?

  3. 3 Jack Black
    January 22, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    This highlights that the public have little trust or faith in Police Scotland.

    Surely Police Scotland and wildlife crime in general would benefit from SSPCA being given increased powers . If nothing else it would help improve public perception.

  4. 5 Tony Warburton MBE
    January 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    At last – an honest politician. Keep at their throats Mark, they are wriggling like worms on a hook (pun intended). And thank you for your tenacity.

  5. 6 heclasu
    January 23, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Surely if you are witholding crime data you are witholding ‘evidence’. Could this not be interpreted as an attempt to pervert the course of justice which is, in itself, a serious criminal offence. Personally, I believe a public enquiry is called for.

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