The Scottish SPCA is set to get more investigatory powers, including those that allow it to conduct searches and seize evidence. But shooters north of the border are campaigning against any increase to the SSPCA’s remit.
The Scottish government is consulting on who should have powers to search and seize evidence during wildlife crime investigations.
An extension of the SSPCA’s powers had been mooted, which would allow it to enter people’s land (though not land that was locked or fenced off. The Scottish government said it didn’t have the resources to tackle wildlife crime on its own – and it would make sure the SSPCA was transparent and accountable for its actions.
But Scottish shooting organisations have said such a move would be “disastrous.” Scottish Land and Estates said: “On first glance, the proposals laid out in the consultation document may seem like a common-sense way to help the police at low cost. We firmly support much of the work carried out by the SSPCA and we value our partnership with them under the partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in Scotland umbrella.
“There are, however, wider implications for the judicial system if their role is expanded. It is our view that this would be problematic, as the SSPCA would have to balance their function as a membership-driven charity – with pre-determined stances on certain wildlife issues – with a role of impartial investigator on matters where a crime may have been committed.
“Police have a focus firmly on the law, whereas the SSPCA is a privately funded charity with a different set of objectives that govern how its own employees behave.”