Wildlife crime in Scotland: 2020 annual report

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

5. PAW Scotland

The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland consists of law enforcement bodies, wildlife and animal welfare charities, land management organisations and government agencies, working together to fight wildlife crime.

The partnership is supported by the Scottish Government. Its work is overseen by an Executive Group, comprising representatives of selected stakeholders and the chairs of PAW Scotland sub-groups and wildlife crime priority groups based in Scotland. A wider Plenary Group, made up of representatives of all PAW Scotland member organisations, meets to give an opportunity to all members to comment on PAW projects and raise any wildlife crime issues.

In March 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 emergency resulted in a public health and economic crisis of unprecedented scale. As a consequence, much of the Scottish Government's resources were deployed in these areas. The nature of the emergency meant that people had to socially distance and/or isolate. This meant that the Scottish Government, enforcement and other organisations could not function as normal.

The progression of the PAW Scotland meetings schedule was one of a number of areas of work that was placed on hold. Meetings of the sub-groups detailed below, sought to resume in 2021.

Legislation, Regulation and Guidance

The PAW Scotland Legislation, Regulation and Guidance Sub-group was created to review the operation in practice of wildlife legislation and regulations; identify areas for improvement and make recommendations. To produce guidance for wildlife crime law enforcement practitioners, land managers and other countryside users.


The PAW Scotland Media Sub-group was created to oversee the publicising of the work of PAW Scotland, development of the PAW Scotland brand and the co-ordination of events.

Training and Awareness

The PAW Scotland Training and Awareness Sub-group was created to ensure that training relating to, and awareness of, wildlife crime is maintained at an appropriately high level across Scotland.


The PAW Scotland Scientific group was created to;

  • advise on priorities for analysis & research and act as a review panel for grant applications relating to research into scientific aspects of wildlife crime
  • review and advise on presentation of scientific data
  • increase the profile, among the enforcement community, of scientific techniques & methods that can be used for wildlife crime investigations, carry out case
  • reviews, from a scientific and/or forensic perspective, of completed wildlife crime investigations
  • increase the profile of the application of science in handling wildlife crime by publishing group minutes and links to appropriate peer-reviewed scientific papers


The PAW Scotland Raptor Group was established to develop a programme of work to improve prevention, awareness raising, enforcement and intelligence gathering in Scotland related to crimes against birds of prey.

  • develop methods to assist in reducing raptor persecution
  • devise strategies to raise awareness of raptor persecution
  • devise strategies to foster trust and relations with PAW partners to maximise intelligence and crime prevention opportunities
  • encourage data sharing between both government and non-government organisations.
  • bring a robust evidence led approach to prevention and enforcement activity to support policing
  • examine and implement innovative approaches to preventative action to reduce raptor persecution
  • encourage appropriate enforcement action in all incidents of raptor persecution

Freshwater Pearl Mussel Priority Delivery Group

The Freshwater Pearl Mussel Priority Delivery Group aims to raise awareness of criminality affecting freshwater pearl mussels in order to facilitate intelligence and incident reporting, leading to increased prevention and enforcement action

Badger Persecution Priority Delivery Group

The aims of the group are broadly covered by three headings. These are intelligence gathering, enforcement and crime prevention which are carried out via the U.K. wide initiative "Operation Badger". Intelligence gathering and enforcement rest largely with Police Scotland, NWCU and the SSPCA. Scottish Badgers, SNH and NFUS are primarily concerned with crime prevention, in particular via the provision of publicity, education and specialist advice.

  • Reduce the instances of sett interference during otherwise lawful operations.
  • Increase successful detection and prosecution of badger baiters and the seizure of their dogs.

Poaching & coursing Priority Delivery Group

The group aims to build a greater level of public awareness of poaching and coursing as serious wildlife crime, to continue to build working relations, communications and information share between all agencies and organisations and rural communities in order to increase prevention activity and enforcement (Scotland).


The PAW Scotland Funding Sub-group was created to consider, reject or approve applications to the PAW Scotland Fund. Applications are managed by NatureScot on behalf of Scottish Government and PAW Scotland.

The PAW Funding group met in May 2019 with another meeting scheduled for May 2020. The group ratified updates to the PAW funding priorities and selection criteria, including funding to non-PAW signatories from public, private and voluntary sectors both within and outwith PAW Scotland. Projects which encourage public engagement with wildlife crime issues while retaining a focus on the key activities of crime prevention, intelligence or enforcement were likely to be prioritised.

The group funded the following projects in 2019/20;

  • RSPB investigations team, a specialist team delivering awareness raising, crime prevention and detection functions. Assisting Police Scotland in criminal investigations.
  • A Forestry and Woodland Crime Sharing Good Practice event attended by around 80 participants from the forestry sector
  • A project to install cameras on high persecution risk freshwater pearl mussel in partnership with the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust
  • Heads up for Harriers - Image analysis 2015-2019 report, assessing over 2 million nest camera images to determine factors for nesting success and failure
  • Training of Wildlife Crime Officers across Scotland in badger related issues, delivered by Scottish Badgers
  • Delivery of a WDC marine mammal awareness campaign
  • University of Strathclyde project to develop forensic tapes for recovery of human DNA from animal carcases at the scene of crime.


Email: john.gray@gov.scot

Back to top