People convicted of wildlife crimes such as deer poaching, hare coursing, killing badgers or birds of prey should receive bigger fines and longer prison sentences than currently available.
That’s the view of Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the organisation which represents landowners and rural businesses.
Following an evidence session with the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee this week, SLE says that those who undertake illegal acts should face strong penalties proportionate to the crime and in line with those for similar crimes, with sanctions applied consistently & clearly to act as a real deterrent.
SLE also says that to successfully fight wildlife crime, education of what wildlife crime is and the impact, awareness of the possible maximum penalties along with more training and support for police officers to assist with detection are vitally important.
Karen Ramoo, policy adviser at Scottish Land & Estates who gave evidence today at the committee, said: ‘We need to send out a clear message that wildlife crime of any kind is absolutely unacceptable, and these reckless acts will not be tolerated. That is why we are calling for longer prison sentences and bigger maximum fines for the most serious wildlife crimes, to act as a deterrent.
‘By providing clear guidelines to the courts on sentencing and by enabling courts to issue bigger penalties than currently available, we are confident that wildlife crime in Scotland will continue to decrease as it has over the past five years.
‘We also believe that enabling police to use and manage surveillance cameras under strict RIPSA procedures where evidence suggests there could be acts of wildlife crime, could act as a real deterrent and could lead to more prosecutions. Scotland’s wildlife continues to rely on the public, our members and the police to act as eyes and ears to ensure that these heinous crimes are stamped out.’
SLE also supports more imaginative and targeted sanctions including community payback orders when appropriate for less serious wildlife crimes that have less of an impact on a species and the environment.