Wildlife crime in Scotland: 2020 annual report

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

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.

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 2019-20, the latest period for which a complete set of data is available
  • Chapters 5-8 include information on activities and projects related to wildlife crime policy and enforcement throughout 2020 and beyond.
Summary of data sources used for this Wildlife Crime Report
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 (SRUC) Wildlife cases examined by SRUC Veterinary Services which were suspected to have been the result of criminal activity
NatureScot (formerly known as Scottish National Heritage) Freshwater pearl mussel (FWPM) incidents Health of the species General licence restrictions
Police Scotland Disaggregated recorded crime data by species, type of wildlife crime Firearms restrictions
National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) Wildlife crime intelligence logs summary
Scottish Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) Summary of Scottish SPCA investigations


Email: john.gray@gov.scot

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