Scotland’s new team of wildlife crime-fighters have met for the first time to focus on targeting offenders and protecting the country’s natural resources.
Under the single service, each division has a wildlife crime liaison officer. The liaison officers met at Tulliallan where they discussed a wide range of topics related to wildlife crime.
National oversight is provided by Scottish Wildlife Crime Co-Ordinator Segeant Andrew Mavin and portfolio lead officer Detective Superintendent Cameron Cavin.
The wildlife crime portfolio is led strategically by Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland also spoke to the first meeting of the liaison officers about the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s determination to crackdown on wildlife crime.
Detective Superintendent Cavin said: “Our network of divisional co-ordinators will link local policing to the specialist resources which can help tackle this issue in a real and effective way. The new structure builds on the work done previously in Scotland and we will have a focus moving forward on the best way to tackle the issue in its many different forms.
“There is a necessity for strong partnerships, localising effective activity at a community level and combining that with how we impact on serious organised crime. I am really keen to stress that this new approach is a consolidation of experiences, skills, partnership opportunities, and good communication but the big message here is about local policing being at the forefront of how we deal with this whilst linking to national capabilities and specialists.”
ACC Graham said: “Scotland’s natural heritage is worth £17 billion to the country’s economy annually and the industry employs one in seven people. 2013 is also the year of Natural Scotland. Criminals who target wildlife do so for their own financial gain and pleasure – denying those same benefits for the rest of the country.
“Tackling crime, keeping people safe and building confidence will be at the centre of everything the new service in Scotland stands for. This includes our approach to tackling wildlife crime, which is also clearly a global issue. By adopting a more strategic and co-ordinated approach and deploying tactics we would use in disrupting and detecting other forms of organised criminality, our aim is to make Scotland a hostile landscape for criminals who seek to exploit Scotland’s natural heritage for their own advantage.
“Our approach will combine national co-ordination with local delivery, build on our relationships with all our partners including PAW Scotland (Partnership Against Wildlife Crime), Interpol and international law enforcement, increase our intelligence gathering and enhance our operational response.
“The future of wildlife crime policing is firmly embedded in Police Scotland. With our new structure, and the continued funding of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Scottish policing is ideally positioned to impact on those who seek to damage Scotland’s wildlife and the environment. Improved police coordination and greater understanding of the wildlife crime problem in Scotland will allow us to drive forward our work towards our goal of reducing incidents of wildlife and environmental crime.”
Lord Advocate the Right Honorable Frank Mulholland QC said: "Our way of investigating and prosecuting wildlife crime has developed in recent years. The development of specialist prosecutors and the creation of the COPFS Wildlife and Environment Crime Unit (WECU) have been significant steps forward in tackling wildlife crime. Our close working relationship with police wildlife crime officers and other specialist reporting agencies has resulted in a collaborative building of expertise which has already shown impressive results. Prosecutors will continue to work with wildlife investigators at an early stage to ensure that cases are prepared and presented to the highest standard."