Wildlife crime in Scotland: 2015 annual report

The fourth wildlife crime annual report, this highlights new data from the financial year 2014 to 2015.

1. Introduction

Legislative requirement of annual report

This report is a requirement of Section 20 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, which inserted a new Section 26B into the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The section prescribes that Ministers must lay a report following the end of every calendar year on offences which relate to wildlife, to include information on incidence and prosecutions during the year to which the report relates, and on research and advice relevant to those offences.

Wildlife crime

The report uses the following definition of wildlife crime, as agreed by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime ( PAW) Scotland in 2010.

"Wildlife crime is any unlawful act or omission, which affects any wild creature, plant or habitat, in Scotland."

A summary of the legislation which contains offences highlighted in this report is available in Appendix 1.

Improvements to report

As part of an ongoing process to improve the clarity of the report and availability of useful data, the following changes have been made:

  • The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) contribution in Section 2.2 has been redesigned to make it more consistent with the crime groupings used in official recorded crime and prosecution statistics. Data for previous years has also been included for the first time. Additional detailed breakdowns of this COPFS data is provided in Appendix 3A.
  • New disaggregated wildlife offence data, covering 2013-14 and 2014-15, has been provided by Police Scotland. This data has been used to provide breakdowns not currently possible using the official crime statistics. Summaries of recorded offences by wildlife crime priority area are now included in Chapter 4.

Outline of report

The report is divided into two main parts:

  • Chapters 2-4 contain evidence on the level and nature of wildlife crime and prosecutions, supported by additional detail where it is available and relevant. This information covers the financial year 2014-15, the latest period for which a complete set of data is available.
  • Chapters 5-7 include information on activities and projects related to wildlife crime policy and enforcement throughout 2015 and beyond.

Data: What evidence do we have for levels of wildlife crime and prosecutions?

The following section incorporates data from a number of sources, building the most accurate picture we can of the levels of wildlife crime and prosecutions in Scotland. The table below presents a summary of the data sources included in this report.

Summary of Data Sources used for Wildlife Crime

Organisation/ data source

Information used in this report

Recorded Crime statistics: Scottish Government statistical output derived from Police Scotland's recorded crime database

Numbers of crimes recorded

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) system

Number of cases reported to COPFS and associated case outcomes

Criminal Proceedings Statistics, Scottish Government

Number of people proceeded against and those with a conviction

Types of punishment issued in courts

Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture ( SASA)

Wildlife DNA forensic cases

Pesticide abuse incidents including bird of prey poisoning data

Scotland's Rural College

Wildlife cases examined by SAC Consulting Veterinary Services which were suspected to have been the result of criminal activity

Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH)

Freshwater pearl mussels incidents

General license restrictions

Police Scotland

Disaggregated recorded crime data by species, type of wildlife crime

Firearms restrictions

National Wildlife Crime Unit

Wildlife crime intelligence logs summary

Scottish Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals ( SSPCA)

Summary of SSPCA investigations


Back to top