Wildlife crime in Scotland: 2020 annual report

The ninth wildlife crime annual report, with new data from the financial year 2019 to 2020.

Appendix 2 - Notes and Definitions for COPFS Data

  • The information provided was compiled on 01 October 2021.
  • At the stage of preparing this report, there remain a number of court cases pending trial.
  • The figures reflect current Scottish Government offence categories.
  • The figures relate to cases in which at least one statutory wildlife offence was reported to COPFS. The figures may also include those reported as animal welfare offences only or in which a common law offence with a wildlife element has been reported, such as breach of the peace or culpable and reckless conduct.
  • The figures represent the number of cases reported and their outcomes but where cases have been combined, only one is counted. A case may relate to multiple incidents and to multiple accused persons.
  • 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.
  • Cases which contain several charges falling into different categories are listed only once. In most cases, the category will reflect the most significant wildlife offence reported to COPFS by the investigating agency but in some the category may be adjusted to take account of the prosecution of a more appropriate charge or of the conviction recorded.
  • Since 2012, the poaching of game birds has been an offence under section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and is now categorised as "Birds, offences involving".
  • Offences involving the poaching of mammals may be included in the categories "Hunting with Dogs", "Cruelty to wild animals", "Deer" or "Other wildlife offences" depending on the circumstances and the charges reported or prosecuted.
  • Alternatives to prosecution include conditional offers by the Procurator Fiscal ("fiscal fines", etc. under section 302 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995) which have been accepted, or deemed to have been accepted, by the accused and warning letters.
  • COPFS uses a live operational database and the information contained within it is structured accordingly. Information provided may therefore be subject to change as our systems are updated for operational reasons.
  • A 'conviction' is where a case involving a wildlife offence has been prosecuted and at least one accused in the case has pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of at least one offence having an element which directly relates to a relevant wildlife offence.
  • Further information on prosecutorial decision making is available in the COPFS Prosecution Code


Email: john.gray@gov.scot

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