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Scottish Minister unveils new proposals on wildlife crime

Environment minister Aileen McLeod has announced that the Scottish Government have accepted recommendations from the wildlife crime penalties review group to introduce the new maximum penalties.





Subject to the necessary legislative steps, this could mean fines of up to £40,000 and 12 months of imprisonment for certain offences.




The Scottish Government proposes to take forward further recommendations from the group, including greater use of alternative penalties such as seizing equipment used to carry out offences, greater use of impact statements in court and exploring creation of new sentencing guidelines.




Announcing the proposals, Ms 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."




The announcement was welcomed by the Countryside Alliance.


Director for Scotland Jamie Stewart: "The announcement from the Scottish Government on tough new maximum penalties for those who commit crimes against wildlife is a welcome step forward. Poaching (including fish) and coursing are the most commonly reported of all wildlife crimes in Scotland and have been shown to have links with other types of rural, violent and organised crime. As a result, these crimes are of particular interest to the police and are especially concerning to rural communities.


"It is good to see that there has been a reduction in the overall number of crimes and to hear most recently from Police Scotland in the RACCE committee wildlife crime evidence session that it is increasingly likely that, if raptor crime is going on, we will hear about it. That leads me to think that the problem is not increasing; rather, it is more likely to be the case that Police Scotland is hearing about a greater proportion of cases and probably less crime is happening However, there is no room for complacency."



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