Review of snaring for Scottish Government, prepared by Scottish Natural Heritage

Report from Scottish Natural Heritage on snaring legislation, as per the Wildlife & Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (WANE).

4. Review Snare Training and Assess the Administrative Procedure

4.1 Snare Training [10]

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) Order 2012 came into force on 4 th June 2012 and introduces the need for competence in key areas in order to be issued with a training certificate as determined by an approved body. The Order specifies the following as approved training bodies: British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Scottish Association for Country Sports and Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012 came into force on 21 st June 2012 and revokes the previous Order. The following are added to the list of approved bodies: Borders College, Elmwood College, The North Highland College, The Scottish Agricultural College. There are no other substantive changes over the previous Order.

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) Order 2015 came into force on 1 st January 2016 and revokes the previous Order. The list of approved bodies is amended to the following: Borders College, British Association for Shooting and Conservation Limited, Countryside Alliance, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trading Limited, The Board of Management of The North Highland College, Scottish Association for Country Sports, Scottish Gamekeepers Association Charitable Trust and Scotland's Rural College.

There are no other substantive changes over the previous Order.

To date a total of 2578 have been trained.

Key to all three Orders is article 3 [11] , which makes provisions regarding the training requirements that must be met prior to a person being deemed as being 'trained' by an approved body.

The determination of trainee competence under article 3(3) and ability to set a snare in accordance with the law under 3(3)(b) is subjective and reliant on both the delivery methods of the approved training bodies and the quality assurance processes that they employ.

Assessment Process: The measures employed to assess competency of trainees vary slightly between approved training bodies, with differences in the pass mark required in the exam. The use of continuous assessment throughout the delivery of the course and identification and addressing areas of weakness is to be encouraged and seems appropriate.

A standardisation of the assessments methods and level of attainment required for a 'pass' and therefore competence should be encouraged either through agreement between the approved bodies in association with SASA or via incorporation as an annex in the Code of Practice.

Failure Rates: A total of 3 failures from 2578 passes (certified to operate snares) seems disproportionately low. It is not possible to establish whether this is due to the continuous assessment and training delivered to address any weakness or whether it is due to other factors. However the Review Group believe that standardisation of the attainment levels and agreed level of competence of trainees should address any questions raised by this low failure rate.

Quality Assurance: All respondents stated (to a greater or lesser degree) that the knowledge, experience and ongoing awareness of staff delivering training provided quality assurance in meeting the requirements of Article 3. One respondent also stated that training was delivered to meet with the Code of Practice. While it is likely that all approved training bodies do in fact adhere to the standards within the Code of Practice, the Review Group would like to see this formally incorporated into the delivery of all snare training, through agreement among the approved training bodies.

4.2 Administrative procedure for obtaining snaring ID

Articles 3 to 6 of The Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 outline the administrative procedure for obtaining a snare identification number from Police Scotland and the requirement for Police Scotland to maintain records of identification numbers issued and the person to whom they relate.

The effectiveness of the administrative procedure for obtaining snaring identification has been assessed by the Review Group by questioning the approved training bodies on operators' perspectives and Police Scotland on their ability to provide a service.

The Review Group contacted approved training bodies to establish how (in their opinion) certified snare operators comply with article 3(3). A summary of the responses is provided in Annex 4.

Registration Process with Police Scotland: Following successful completion of snare training, in order to apply for a snaring identification number operators must attend a designated police station with a completed application for a snaring operator identification number, copy of their training certificate, £20 administration fee, passport photograph and suitable identification.

Police Scotland issued initial guidance to the approved training bodies on the application process for obtaining a snare identification number. It is clear from the responses provided to the two questions (see Annex 4) that operators are fully informed by the approved training bodies about the process for registering for a snare identification number and any problems have been isolated.

Comments were made by the approved training bodies about an apparent lack of awareness experienced at a limited number of police stations about the snaring registration process.

Police Scotland provided a PowerPoint presentation to all Police Officers and Staff and this remains available on the force intranet. In addition, information on the registration process is available in the Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Standard Operating Procedure and in the Wildlife Crime Guidance booklet. It is also available to all on the intranet wildlife crime page as part of a wildlife crime presentation initially aimed at those involved in call handling. Information can also be found on the publicly available PSoS internet.

The consensus from approved training bodies is that the uptake of training has slowed significantly since Section 13 of the WANE Act was enacted. Police Scotland have provided reassurance that the initial information and guidance for police officers and staff on their role in the application process for snaring identification number is still available, however the requirement for this is likely to be at a low level.

Police Scotland has stated the turnaround for issue of a snaring identification number as approximately 14 days from submission of application at a police station. This is qualified however by other resource demands on the Police Scotland Firearms Licensing Department, who have been tasked with the administration of snaring identification numbers.

This seems fairly consistent with the timeframes indicated by the approved training bodies.

4.3 Compliance with the administrative procedure for obtaining snaring identification

The Review Group assessed the compliance with the administrative procedure for obtaining snaring identification by reviewing prosecuted cases involving non-compliance under Section 11A and the evaluation of the uptake of training against the number of operators who applied for an identification number. It must be noted however that this latter is merely a reflection of the number of people who have not chosen to register with Police Scotland for an identification number and criminality cannot be inferred by any discrepancy between the numbers.

As discussed in Section 11A 'Training. Identification numbers, tags etc.;' (above) six prosecutions have resulted in a conviction for an offence under Section 11A, and a further case being was dealt with by PF direct measure.

At least two of the convictions relate to individuals who had received snare training but not applied for an identification number.

A total of 2578 people have successfully completed snare training and 1502 of these have registered with Police Scotland and received a snaring identification number. The approved training bodies have proposed a number of explanations for this difference:

  • Not all students are successful in gaining employment as gamekeepers;
  • Some gamekeepers may lose employment and not need to operate snares;
  • Many gamekeepers are switching to thermal imaging / light intensifiers equipment for pest control; The burden placed upon operators by the legislation is too onerous and some choose not to continue snaring;
  • Concerns of being falsely accused of an offence in cases where snares have been tampered with;
  • Some trainees (land owners and land managers) undertake training solely to gain a better understanding of snaring;
  • Some trainees attend training but do not have an immediate need to operate snares.

All of these explanations seem valid, although concerns regarding being falsely accused in the event of snares being tampered with could be potentially mitigated through accurate and timely record keeping. None of these explanations points to a failure to comply with the administrative procedure, and it is therefore the view of the Review Group that it is currently meeting the requirements of the legislation.


Email: John Gray

Back to top