Wildlife Crime Unit pilot

MSP Colin Smyth
MSP Colin Smyth

A South of Scotland MSP has accused the Scottish Government of breaking a manifesto promise to set up a dedicated wildlife crime unit for Scotland.

MSP Colin Smyth (Labour) asked for an update on the Government’s commitment to introduce a dedicated Scottish wildlife crime unit during a recent question time session in the Scottish Parliament and was told that a 12 month pilot scheme involving a team of special constables was launched in the Cairngorms National Park in March this year.

“Wildlife crime is a real issue in our area whether it is the killing of birds of prey or the illegal trapping of animals,” said Mr Smyth. “But there is a real frustration that many such crimes go unsolved because they can be complex and need specialist work.

“Too often people don’t report wildlife crime because they fear it won’t be taken seriously and sadly that’s the signal the Government are sending out. This means we don’t even have an accurate picture of the extent of the problem because a massive amount of wildlife crime goes unreported.

“Local Wildlife Crime police officers do their best to tackle the issue when it is reported but they need more support. The trial taking place in the Cairngorms is a first step, but that doesn’t tackle the problem of wildlife crime in the south of Scotland.”