The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all of our animals continue to enjoy the highest standards of welfare. However, an independent review of the current penalties available to punish perpetrators of wildlife crime found that the current penalties may not be serving as a sufficient deterrent or reflect the serious nature of some of the crimes that are being committed.
The Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group was chaired by Professor Mark Poustie, and included representatives from Scottish Government, law enforcement, land management and conservation. The group’s report was published in November 2015 and can be read at: https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/11/2196.
The group made ten recommendations including increases to maximum available penalties, use of impact statements, alternative penalties, legislative coherence and sentencing guidelines. The Scottish Government published response broadly accepted the recommendations made by the review group https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00494565.pdf and in our 2017-2018 Programme for Government we committed to improving the protection available for all animals in Scotland including:
‘We will also progress … Professor Poustie’s recommendations to increase penalties for wildlife crime.’
In his ‘Report of the Review of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002’, httaps://www.gov.scot/publications/report-review-protection-wild-mammals-scotland-act-2002/ published in November 2016, Lord Bonomy recommended that the time limit for summary convictions made under this act be extended in this way to enable Police Scotland to have sufficient time to undertaken their investigations.
The Scottish Government is now seeking to explore possible amendments to several pieces of legislation protecting Scotland’s wildlife. We are proposing to:
- Increase the maximum available penalties for the worst type of wildlife offences to a prison sentence of five years, an unlimited fine or both.
- Extend the time allowed for prosecution under summary conviction to six months from which sufficient evidence came to the knowledge of the prosecutor, but no more than three years from the date of the offence.
Our consultation is not seeking views on the penalties for crimes committed against domestic animals. The Scottish Government recently consulted on proposals to increase the maximum available penalties for the worst type of animal welfare offences committed under Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.
The consultation closed on 26 April 2019 and further information can be found at;