MSPs seek clarification on use of evidence in cases of wildlife crime
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee writes to Crown Office requesting clarification on admissibility of evidence
MSPs have requested clarification from the Crown Office over the admissibility of evidence in cases of alleged wildlife crime.
The Crown Office faced criticism from RSPB Scotland over its decision to drop a case involving against a gamekeeper accused of setting an illegal trap. The charity released video footage which was due to be used in the trial, but the case was discontinued.
The Crown Office said the video evidence was not admissible because it was filmed for the purposes of gathering evidence.
- MSPs to consider deposit return scheme as part of investigation into waste sector
- Fergus Ewing announces new inshore fisheries management trials after damage to Loch Carron
Pointing to similar high profile cases, where video evidence of alleged offences was available but not utilised, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has written to the Crown Office to request clarification on which pieces of legislation cover the admissibility of evidence, and particularly of video and CCTV evidence, and whether there is guidance which is applied by the Crown Office in reaching a decision.
Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Graeme Dey MSP said: “These days, there’s clearly an argument for the use of video, CCTV, or even social media to be considered when a crime against any animal is alleged to have been committed.
“And, as it’s often the case that poaching or killing of wildlife occurs in some of the most remote areas in Scotland, these crimes can sometimes go under the radar because there is no one around to act as a witness.
“In light of recent events, we’ve asked the Crown Office for information on the admissibility of evidence, including video and CCTV, whether there is any clear guidance on this, and how they interpret whether evidence is admissible or not.”
With illegal traps often placed in remote locations, investigators have previously struggled to collect evidence of wrong doing
While the overall number of recorded crimes fell from 284 instances in 2014/15 to 261 in 2015/16, the number of crimes involving hunting with dogs rose to its highest in five years
Scottish Natural Heritage finds majority of cases in areas where land is intensively managed for driven grouse shooting
With UK air quality standards in breach of European law, High Courts orders Government forced to publish plans