Environment Minister Aileen McLeod has accepted recommendations from the wildlife crime penalties review group to introduce tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife.
Subject to the necessary legislative steps this could mean fines of up to £40,000 and 12 months imprisonment for certain offences.
The Scottish Government will take forward a number of other recommendations including:
- Greater use of alternative penalties such as forfeiture of equipment used to carry out offences
- Greater use of impact statements in court to better explain the impact a wildlife crime may have
- Explore creation of new sentencing guidelines
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr McLeod said “Wildlife crime has no place in modern Scotland, this is why I have decided to increase the maximum available penalties to bring wildlife offences into line with other environmental crimes. It is important we have appropriate penalties that deter criminality but also reflect the impact these crimes can have on our environment and Scotland’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination. Work will now begin on bringing together a list of relevant offences this change would apply to.
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“We already have the strongest wildlife legislation in the UK, in 2012 we implemented the vicarious liability provisions in relation to offences involving wild birds and we recently secured the second conviction under these provisions. We also funded the pesticide disposal scheme which removed over 700kg of illegally held poisons in Scotland. But I am determined to do even more to end these crimes that threaten the survival of some species and inflict cruelty on others.
“I would also like to reiterate my thanks to the wildlife crime penalties review group and to Professor Poustie for their extensive work on this report.”