Call for funding for wildlife officer
Peter Peacock, Highlands and Islands Labour regional MSP, has contacted the police board for Northern Constabulary to call for funding for a full time wildlife officer.
Mr Peacock previously raised the issue that Northern Constabulary, which covers the largest area of wild land in the UK, does not have a permanent officer dealing with wildlife crime - unlike neighbouring forces where either a regular officer or a civilian support staff member undertakes these duties.
At present a Chief Inspector in Dingwall acts as wildlife crime co-ordinator with an officer appointed in each of the Area Commands, undertaking wildlife crime investigation as and when required.
The Highlands and Islands MSP has written to Councillor Norman MacLeod, Chairman of the Northern Joint Police Board asking him to seek to ensure that the requisition of councils will allow for the employment of at least one full time wildlife crime officer.
"While I appreciate the excellent work being carried out at present by Northern Constabulary wildlife crime officers I do think this could be enhanced still further by the appointment of at least one full time wildlife crime officer," he said.
He added: "The economic and social importance of our natural environment in the Highlands and Islands is considerable.
"The area deserves a high degree of protection from those who indulge in wildlife crime."
Deputy Chief Constable Garry Sutherland has said that he would consider any recommendations from a forthcoming review into wildlife crime investigation which is to be carried out by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland and HM Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland before considering any changes to the current set up.
Mr Peacock urged him to give further consideration to the issue. "I believe there is a strong case for full-time wildlife crime officers within Northern Constabulary, to regularly co-ordinate wildlife officers on the ground and to liaise more frequently with relevant bodies leading to an improving flow of intelligence."
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