Alarming level of distrust between groups working to tackle wildlife crime, MSPs warn
Scottish Parliament Environment, Rural Affairs and Climate Change committee responds to Scottish Government wildlife crime report
There is an alarming level of distrust between different groups working to tackle wildlife crime, according to the Scottish Parliament Environment, Rural Affairs and Climate Change committee.
Responding to the Scottish Government’s Wildlife Crime in Scotland 2015 Annual Report, the Committee warned data included in the report was “often unclear”, while also highlighting “a number of gaps” in Police Scotland’s attempts to tackle wildlife crime.
The Committee called on the different groups within the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAWS) – which includes the police, land managers and environmental organisations – to improve cooperation.
Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Graeme Dey MSP said: “Wildlife crime, in all its guises and wherever it takes place, is unacceptable and there should be a zero tolerance approach towards such activities and those who undertake them.
“Tackling this issue effectively requires genuine, collaborative working and the Committee was disappointed to see the clear distrust and tension which exists between some of those whose participation is so essential.
“The Committee is calling for greater partnership working, between all organisations - including Police Scotland, the RSPB and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association - operating within the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime.”
The Committee highlighted gaps in Police Scotland intelligence on whether a reduction in wildlife in specific areas is due to natural changes to populations or reveals potential persecution.
The response also warned “While the Committee made great efforts in trying to understand the data provided in the report, it was often unclear, as the data provided across different offences was not always consistent, and questions were raised in evidence about what some of the figures were referencing.”
It added: “The Committee was also alarmed at the clear distrust between some stakeholders. The Committee believes that wildlife crime is everyone’s problem and while it welcomes the public condemnation of such crimes by the SGA and others it is of the view that more must be done by all concerned in terms of reporting to and co-operating with Police Scotland. The Committee sees PAWS as an important vehicle in helping encourage and enable such a positive approach and wants to see its protocols being followed by all those involved.
“The Committee therefore calls on the various groups and organisations who make up PAWS to continue to build upon these relationships and so that the benefits that can be derived from joint working are not diminished.”
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