Snaring: review - February 2022

Report on snaring legislation, as per the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (WANE).

3. Assessing The Efficacy Of The Legislation

3.1 Summary

The following data was received from Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in relation to the number of Standard Prosecution Reports (SPRs) received in the calendar years 2006 to 2021 and the numbers of cases prosecuted and those leading to conviction.

Calendar Year SPRs received by COPFS Cases prosecuted Cases resulting in conviction[2] PF Direct measures issued Incidents[3] reported in SPRs
by year SPR reported by year of occurrence
2006 3 2 3[4] 3
2007 3 3 1
2008 9 7 5 11 11
2009 6 5 2 6 7
2010 15 7 5 6 17 18
2011 2 1 3 1
2012 9 5 3 9 11
2013 3 1 1 1 9 8
2014 5 3 3 1 6 9
2015 5 5 4 8 4
2016 1 1 1 1 1
Total 2012-2016 23 15 12 2 33 33
2017 2 2 1 1 1
2018 3 2 1 3 2
2019 7 3 7 2
2020 3 1 2 3
2021 3 1 2 1 2
Total 2017-2021 18 4 2 9 15 7

The following parts of this report provide some information about convictions and sentences. It should be noted that in some cases the particular charge may have been one of several, in which case the sentence indicated will not reflect the disposal of the case in its entirety.

The court disposals were as follows:

Year Offence Disposal
2013 section 11A(1) and (5) Community Payback Order 240 hours
2014 section 11A(1) £200 fine
2014 section 11A(2) £300 fine
2014 section 11A(1) Admonished
2014 section 11A(1) PF Direct Measure
2015 section 11A(1) and (5) Community Payback Order 200 hours
2015 section 11A(2)(b) and (6) Admonished
2016 None -
Year Offence Disposal
2017 S11(1)(aa) PF Direct Measure
2018 S11(2)(a) PF Direct Measure
2018 S11(1)(aa) £300
2018 S11(1)(aa) Community Payback Order (225 hours) and Restriction of Liberty Order for 10 months.
2019 S11(1)(aa) PF Direct Measure
2019 S11(1)(aa) PF Direct Measure
2019 S11(1)(aa) PF Direct Measure
2020 S11(2)(b) Court – not yet concluded
2020 S11C(a) PF Direct Measure
2020 S11(2)(b) PF Direct Measure
2021 S11(1)(aa) PF Direct Measure
2021 S11(1)(aa) Court – not yet concluded
2021 S11(1)(a) PF Direct Measure

Please note:

  • The figures relate to cases in which at least one snaring offence was reported to COPFS.
  • Where cases involve more than one accused person and the outcome for each person is different, they are counted at the level of the highest outcome only. For example if one person is acquitted while another is convicted, the case is shown as a conviction.
  • Direct measures include written warnings by the fiscal or a fixed penalty conditional offer (financial penalty).
  • A disposal may include a sentence for more than one charge where the sentence was issued in cumulo.

Disposed offences relate to breaches of the following legislation:

11 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild animals.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person—

(a) sets in position or otherwise uses any self-locking snare or a snare of any other type specified in an order made by the Scottish Ministers;

One prosecution under this offence was brought between 2017-2021 which resulted in a PF Direct Measure. This is a reduction from five between 2013-2017.

(aa)sets in position or otherwise uses any other type of snare which is either of such a nature or so placed (or both) as to be calculated to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal coming into contact with it;

Eight prosecutions under this offence were brought between 2017-2021 which is an increase from zero between 2013-2017.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Part, a person shall be guilty of an offence if that person—

(a)uses any trap or snare for the purpose of killing or taking or restraining any wild animal included in Schedule 6 or 6ZA;

One prosecution was brought under the offence, an increase from 2013-2017.

(b)sets in position any trap or snare of such a nature and so placed as to be—

(ii)in Scotland, likely to cause bodily injury to any such wild animal;

Two prosecutions were brought under this offence, an increase of one from 2013-2017.

11C - Snares: authorisation from landowners etc.

Subject to the provisions of this Part, any person who without reasonable excuse—

(a) while on any land has in his possession any snare without the authorisation of the owner or occupier of the land;

One prosecution was brought under this offence, an increase from 2013-2017.

It is difficult to draw conclusions based upon this information. On the one hand, the identification of an operator will be inherently more difficult if a snare identification number is not used, which will result in lower prosecutions. On the other hand, the data could be interpreted as providing evidence that Section 11A improves detection of offences, and enables prosecution of technical offences, which otherwise may have gone undetected, ultimately improving compliance with the legislation.

The overall number of cases reported to COPFS is low, so it is difficult to draw any conclusions in terms of the efficacy of the legislation, however the Review Group consider that it would be very difficult to legislate for the actions of individuals where the modus operandi is to undertake an act of snaring with the intention of committing an associated crime.

Had the cases (and associated offences) suggested recklessness by trained operators then the inference would be that the legislation is failing. However the cases prosecuted tend to point to deliberate abuse for purposes ranging from poaching to badger persecution.

Other Sources of Data

SSPCA were asked to provide details of the number of recorded crimes in relation to snaring offences. SSPCA are an investigatory agency with powers under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 who may report crime under this Act directly to COPFS for prosecution.

While offences under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 do not relate directly to the provisions made under the WANE Act, they may be used as an indicator of associated snaring offences and provide a measure of the impact of the WANE Act on welfare-related offences.

Likewise OneKind were also asked to provide details of the number of incidents they recorded in relation to snaring. OneKind does not have any statutory remit for investigation of crime and does not report to COPFS, however incident data may be used to assess the impact of the WANE Act on the number of recorded incidents (including bad practice and those which do not constitute an offence but may have welfare implications).

There is no requirement for OneKind, and SSPCA to record crime to Scottish Crime Recording Standards as described in the Police Scotland 'Crime Recording and Scottish Government Counting Rules (2016)', therefore detailed analysis and comparison of the datasets is not possible.

The snaring incidents Onekind have records for are submitted by members of the public via their Snarewatch website. In any case where illegal activity is suspected Onekind report it to the police or Scottish SPCA, if the person involved has not already done so.

Onekind recorded that during the five year period there were 27 snaring incidents submitted by members of the public via their Snarewatch website. Of those, 12 appeared to involve illegal use of snares, 5 appeared to involve legal snaring and there insufficient information in relation to the remaining cases. Species involved included foxes, rabbits, badgers, cats, dogs. For comparison, OneKind recorded 27 incidents between 2013 (enactment of the WANE Act) and November 2016, with 5-8 of these recorded as 'crimes'. Approximately half (3-4) of these 'crimes' involve snares which did not have an identification number attached.

SSPCA recorded 45 incidents between 2016 and 2021. It is not clear from the information provided which are 'crimes.'. The equivalent figure for incidents between 2013 and November 2016 was 60.

13 of these incidents involve snares which do not have an identification number attached, 13 involve snares with an identification number and a further 11 are not listed.

The SSPCA Special Investigations Unit reports cases directly to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). As a result, any crimes or suspected crimes investigated solely by the Scottish SPCA will not appear in the Police recorded crime statistics. If reported for prosecution however, they will be included in the COPFS figures and those cases will have been given a Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO) number.

Not all incidents identified as crimes will provide sufficient evidence for a prosecution to be progressed to COPFS. Based on the data provided by the SSPCA, there is clearly evidence that there is still widespread misuse of snares.

More detailed information provided by the SSPCA is attached at Annex 2.



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