Annex 2 - Letter from PAW Scotland Legislation, Regulation & Guidance Group
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Natural Resources Division
T: 0131-244-7140 F: 0131-244-0211
Professor Mark Poustie
10 September 2014
Wildlife Crime Penalties Review
I am writing to you on behalf of Professor Colin Reid, in his capacity as Chair of the Legislation, Regulation and Guidance Group of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime ( PAW) - Scotland. One issue which was on our agenda when Colin took over as Chair earlier this year was the question of whether a conviction for a wildlife offence has any impact on a person being considered suitable to retain, or be granted, a shotgun certificate or other firearms licence. This may be an important issue in practice as shooting may be a significant element in the employment or leisure activities of those concerned. As you can see from the enclosed letter, we are formally asking the Chief Constable of Police Scotland for information on the current position.
This, however, raises a wider issue in relation to the connection between convictions for wildlife offences and various forms of official permits, licences or registrations, and it seems appropriate to draw this to your attention and to ask that you include this as an aspect of your current review of the penalties for wildlife crime (as it may well already be). To some extent the position has already been given consideration. The General Licences issued under the Wildlife and Countryside Act expressly do not extend to authorising actions taken by those with recent wildlife crime convictions, whereas by contrast the snaring regime does not allow such matters to be taken into account in what was, we gather, consciously conceived as being simply a registration, rather than a permitting, scheme.
In the current Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill it is thought that the requirement that a gun can be held "without danger to the public safety or to the peace" (s.5) would allow (but not require) such convictions to be taken into account. There are doubtless many other forms of official approval/ certificate/ licence/ permit/ authorisation/ registration which may also be relevant.
Since in the context of wildlife offences limitations on the right to hold certain authorisations may be a very important sanction in practical terms, it seems appropriate that this issue is given attention and a conscious and consistent approach (which need not result in a uniform outcome) taken to this possible consequence of a conviction. The PAW Legislation Group feels that your review seems the most appropriate current vehicle for considering the issue - indeed it may already be part of the work.
The PAW Legislation Group looks forward to seeing the outcome of the review in due course and Colin and I shall be very happy to assist you further on this or related matters if we can.
Wildlife Crime Policy Officer