Tue 11 Feb, 2020

Their officers need to be empowered to help the police to catch perpetrators of wildlife crime, especially when so many of these crimes in Scotland never even reach court Mark Ruskell

The SSPCA could be set to get more powers to tackle wildlife crime, after a Holyrood committee backed proposals by Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell as part of evidence on the Animals and Wildlife Bill.

The Scottish animal protection charity currently only has the power to collect evidence on crime against domestic animals, but MSPs on the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee have recommended the Scottish Government explores ways to expand these powers to cover wildlife.

The recommendation comes after evidence to the committee was overwhelmingly supportive of the move.

Responding to the committee’s stage one report, Scottish Green environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “I’m pleased the committee have backed the idea that the SSPCA need more powers to investigate wildlife crime. Currently the service cannot gather evidence to prosecute these crimes, even when they know about them. That’s ridiculous. Their officers need to be empowered to help the police to catch perpetrators of wildlife crime, especially when so many of these crimes in Scotland never even reach court.

“I’m also pleased the committee has called for a review of the special wildlife constables pilot, which led to not a single crime being reported.

“I hope ministers will take these positive recommendations on board and act within the timescale of the bill, so that we can improve the detection and conviction rate of crimes against wildlife in Scotland.”

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