Accessibility |

COPFS

The Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012 and Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 (R010607)

Freedom of Information: The Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012  and Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 (R010607)

Thank you for your e-mail of 11 June 2015 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

“Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 I seek the following information.
Please send me:

1.         The number of times legal action has been taken for the breach of the Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012 since the order came into force.
2.         The number of times this legal action has resulted in conviction/punishment.
3.         The number of times legal action has been taken for the breach of the Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 since that order came into force.
4.         The number of times this legal action has resulted in conviction/punishment.
5.         The number of times legal action has been taken for the breach of the Snares (Scotland) Order 2012 since that order came into force.
6.         The number of times this legal action has resulted in conviction/punishment.
7.         Any reports, assessments, correspondence and meeting minutes discussing the illegal use of snares since those orders mentioned directly above came into force – including the details of any scheme(s) in place to prevent such activity.

I would prefer to receive this information electronically.

If some parts of this request are easier to answer than others, I would ask that you release the available data as soon as possible.

If you require clarification regarding the request, I would be grateful if you could contact me. I understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and assist requesters.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please can you kindly direct me to its location.

I would be grateful if you could confirm via email that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.”

Firstly I should explain that we use a live operational case management system, specifically designed to receive criminal and death reports from the police and other specialist reporting agencies and to manage the cases for investigation and prosecution purposes.  The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes and is constantly updating and changing.  Due to the way the data is structured on our system, where we are asked to provide statistical information,  we  provide  this  by  number  of  charges  rather than  number of reports and for this reason you should note that:

  • the data should not be taken as reflecting the numbers of incidents, accused and/or cases; 
  • a single incident may give rise to several charges being reported and or prosecuted and may involve several accused;
  • the charges may, in effect, be duplicates or alternatives to take account of possible evidential issues in the case;
  • it is open for the prosecutor to combine multiple incidents and or charges into one charge at the point of raising proceedings or at the point of conviction without affecting the potential sentence.

Having explained this I have now addressed each of your requests in turn:

1.   The Snares (Training) (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 2012 came into force on 21 June 2012.  It is an Order which allows gamekeeping industry bodies and four Scottish colleges to deliver training on the use of snares in Scotland.  The Order does not create any offences.  Offences committed as a result of noncompliance with the Order are covered by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Since the Order was introduced to 16 June 2015 which was the date the data was extracted from our electronic case management system COPFS have received no reports relating to noncompliance of this Order

2.   See point 1 above.

3.   The Snares (Identification Numbers and Tags) (Scotland) Order 2012 came into force on 22 November 2012.  It requires snare users to have approved accreditation and receive a personal identification number from the Police.  The Order does not create any offences.  Offences committed as a result of noncompliance with the Order are covered by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Since the Order was introduced to 16 June 2015 which was the date the data was extracted from our electronic case management system 15 charges involving ID numbers and tags have been reported to COPFS.  The 15 charges consist of 3 different Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 charges and relate to 8 different individual cases. 

4.   Information regarding the 15 charges is provided as follows under the heading of the charge involved:

(1)Wildlife Countryside 1981, Section 11A(1)&(5) (set snare with no ID number)

  • Thirteen separate charges of this type were reported to COPFS since the Order was introduced. 
  • Sheriff Summary proceedings were raised in relation to 3 charges and those proceedings are still ongoing. 
  • Sheriff Summary proceedings were also raised in relation to 2 charges which resulted in a conviction and resulted in a Fine and Community Payback Order.  No action was recorded against one charge and a warning was issued in relation to one charge.  
  • Six charges were ‘not separately prosecuted’. This is where no action was taken under the charge reported, but action was taken under an alternative charge or in relation to other charges reported by the agency in the case because, for example, the prosecutor took the view that an alternative charge was more appropriate or because details of the charge were included within the body of another charge for evidential reasons.

(2)Wildlife Countryside Act, Section 11A(2)&(6) (set/use snare which ID is easily removed/not readable/didn’t specify species)

One charge of this type was reported to COPFS since the Order was introduced.  Sheriff Summary proceedings were raised in relation to this charge and those proceedings are still ongoing.

(3)Wildlife Countryside 1981, Section 11A(2)(b)&(6) (snare ID unreadable)

One charge of this type was reported to COPFS since the Order was introduced.  Sheriff Summary proceedings were raised in relation to this charge and those proceedings are still ongoing.

5.   There is no such Order as The Snares (Scotland) Order 2012.  The Snares (Scotland) Order 2010 was revoked on 2 July 2012.  

6.   See point 5 above.

7.   You have specifically requested to be provided with reports, assessments, correspondence and meeting minutes which discuss the illegal use of snares. The Scottish Government are responsible for legislation in relation to wildlife crime; they produce and publish Wildlife Crime Annual Reports and arrange the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime in Scotland (PAW Scotland) meetings, which involve a wide variety of organisations.  The Scottish Government may be able to provide the documentation you have requested in relation to the illegal use of snares.  They will also be able to provide details of any scheme in place to prevent such activity. Details on how to make a request for this information are available on the Scottish Government web-site at www.gov.scot/Contacts/Have-Your-Say

You may find it helpful to follow the link to the most recent Wildlife Annual Report which is published on the Scottish Government web-site at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00461141.pdf

COPFS takes the prosecution of animal health and welfare cases very seriously. We are committed to providing a powerful and effective deterrent to those who commit crimes against wildlife.  In recognition of this commitment COPFS has a dedicated Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit which comprises of specialist prosecutors who would deal with the offences outlined in this response.