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30/03/14 11:00

Wildlife crime powers

Consultation looks at increasing authorities for SSPCA inspectors.

Greater powers to investigate wildlife crime is at the centre of a new consultation.

Views are being sought on extending the investigative authority of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) Inspectors which could provide a greater resource to tackle wildlife crime in Scotland.

Under the proposals, SSPCA inspectors would be able to investigate crimes relating to wild birds, other protected animals, poaching, snaring and non-native species of animals. Those investigations could involve accessing land and premises, searching for evidence and seizing any evidence found. Access to dwellings and locked buildings would be granted by warrant only.

The consultation seeks to get views on proposals which would allow the SSPCA to investigate situations where animals were not in distress - for example checking illegal traps where no animal is present or an animal is already dead.

Members of the public and key organisations are now being invited to respond to the consultation by September 1, 2014.

Environment Minister and Chair of PAW Scotland Paul Wheelhouse said:

“Preventing wildlife crime is at the top of our agenda but it can be difficult to detect and investigate which can lead to difficulties in mounting prosecutions and convicting those responsible.

“These crimes often occur in remote locations where there are few or no witnesses. When incidents are discovered any delays increase the likelihood of any evidence being destroyed – either deliberately or simply as a result of exposure.

“The proposals to increase the powers for SSPCA inspectors could provide an additional resource to Police Scotland in an area of crime which can be time consuming and difficult to investigate.

“We need to find out what the public feel about this issue. I have already strengthened our approach in tackling wildlife crime but the outcome of this consultation will help us to understand public opinion on possible new ways forward.”

Notes to editors

The consultation starts on Monday 31 March until 1 September 2014.