Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart has written to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in relation to the deployment of Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers (WCLO).
“I understand that within Police Scotland there are 14 Divisions and each Division has a dedicated WCLO,” said David Stewart. “However, having just read the Government Annual Report recently released, called ‘Wildlife Crime in Scotland,’ I am concerned that the area with the highest number of recorded wildlife crimes in Scotland is in the Highlands & Islands, (61) followed by Aberdeenshire and Moray, (45),obviously both areas in my region. Perhaps this is understandable when you consider the land mass involved in these areas. This leads me to wonder why the Divisions with the highest number of wildlife crimes have the same number of WCLO’s as those Divisions with the lowest number of such crimes. I would have thought that more resources would be directed to the areas where wildlife crime is more prevalent given that these types of crime are very hard to deal with and detect and the Police have to work particularly closely with their partner agencies.”
“ I have written today to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland asking him if he has any plans to direct further Police support to the Highlands & Islands and the Moray and Aberdeenshire areas to help address this high incidents of wildlife crime.”
David Stewart continued “ At the same time I intend writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Environment and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, to ascertain when the Government intend publishing quarterly reports which would be much more beneficial to all concerned. It is very difficult for an individual or organisation to address a crime trend, if the information is only being produced annually. In the same vein, we are aware that each Police Division has only one dedicated Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer, but what resources do the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service apply to this crime?. If we are to take this whole crime type more seriously then we have to direct appropriate resources to it.”
“ It goes without saying that Scotland’s iconic wildlife is what draws tourists to our areas of natural beauty. We need to make sure that we are doing all we can to protect this natural asset.”
“ In my letter I also will ask the Cabinet Secretary what impact land reform will have on the issue of wildlife crime.”