Freedom of Information - Wildlife Crime
Thank you for your initial e-mail request dated 3 April 2014 and for your subsequent clarification email of 7 April 2014 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):
"I am looking for data on offences under wildlife legislation (further to that available in this report) and would like to request the total figures for proceedings, prosecutions and cautions for wildlife offences recorded under the relevant legislation.
Please see my requests below.
1. All court proceedings for wildlife offences under relevant legislation, for as far back as the records show. Can you also please include the title of the relevant legislation each offence relates to and what each offence was.
2. All court proceedings which led to a guilty verdict for wildlife offences under the relevant legislation, for as far back as records show; and all cases proceeded against that led to a verdict of not guilty for as far back as records show. Can you also please include the title of the relevant legislation each offence relates to and what each offence was.
3. All individuals cautioned for wildlife offences under the relevant legislation but not proceeded against, for as far back as records show. Can you also please include the title of the relevant legislation each offence relates to and what each offence was.
My I please change my request to limit the data requested for 2002 - 2014. Please apply this to each of my requests.
I would most grateful if you would kindly apply my request to the below legislation (mentioned in the report I referenced).
Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996
Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002
Protection of Badgers Act 1992
Animal Health & Welfare Act 2006
Game (Scotland) Act 1772
Game (Scotland) Act 1832
Night Poaching Act 1828
Poaching Prevention Act 1862
Deer (Scotland) Act 1996
Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004"
Response to you request
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.
I apologise for the delay in issuing my response which was caused by the time required to retrieve, from a variety of sources, the particular data you had requested, check and collate it appropriately.
COPFS uses 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. 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.
The data attached includes the numbers of charges prosecuted in relation to the legislation you have named in your request between financial years 2002/03 to 2013/14 and the numbers of charges prosecuted which led to a guilty and a not guilty verdict in relation to the legislation you have named in your request for financial years 2002/03 to 2013/14.
You should note that the total guilty and not guilty charges will not necessarily add to the total for the year as prosecutions in some charges remain ongoing; prosecutions were discontinued in some other charges; and a number of 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 police 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.