Picture courtesy of the Press and Journal

Call for Wildlife Crime Unit

Peter Peacock MSP is calling on Northern Police to set up of a dedicated wildlife crime unit for the Highlands and Islands.

The MSP, who is a keen bird watcher and a member of the Holyrood environment committee, has written to Chief Constable Ian Latimer asking him to give priority to establishing a unit of wildlife crime officers in the Northern Constabulary area.

“My understanding is that Northern Constabulary currently has a Wildlife Co-ordinator and designated Wildlife Crime Officers in each of its Area commands.  These officers do splendid work but the force does not have a dedicated wildlife crime unit despite covering the largest wildlife area of Scotland,” said Mr Peacock.

His letter comes in the week when the Scottish Parliament will debate the issue and where Mr Peacock will renew his call for more action on wildlife crime across Scotland.

In his letter to the Chief Constable he says:

"It is a tragic fact that some of our most iconic and magnificent birds are illegally poisoned, persecuted and killed or have their eggs stolen. Many other creatures are also affected by wildlife crimes. I believe that among the many priorities you have to deal with there is an opportunity to give this matter even more attention.

"I welcome very much your commitment to working closely with the RSPB and others on these matters and that the force has made great progress through your wildlife liaison officer. That said, I am aware some other forces now have dedicated full time officers committed to wildlife crime and I would like to think that northern constabulary, serving as it does the largest area of special habitat in the UK, might move into the lead and set new standards for wildlife crime detection by establishing a dedicated unit with a number of police officers working within it.”

Mr Peacock pledges to call on the government to make cash available for the force. "Budgets are always tight and I will be happy to make representations to the government to seek additional support to back your efforts and I would encourage you to give urgent consideration to establishing such a unit, even from within existing resources.

"I am in no doubt that huge numbers of people are offended by such crime. Unfortunately, it is a recognised fact that there are a minority of countryside workers, and others, who think it is acceptable to persecute wildlife.   We have to take a firm stand against this. I also believe that the economic benefits we know accrue to the Highlands and Islands from wildlife watching could only benefit further by such action.”


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