The Scottish Government’s attempt to tackle the continued illegal killing of birds of prey by introducing vicarious liability has failed and the provision needs urgent review, Alison Johnstone MSP has said today.
Vicarious liability was introduced in 2012 as a “strong response” to the continued illegal poisoning of birds of prey. It allows for a landowner or sporting agent to be held responsible for the criminal actions of an employee, and it was hoped that it would act as an effective deterrent for wildlife crime.
However, raptor persecution continues and the Scottish Government have confirmed that there have been just two successful convictions under the vicarious liability provision over the last seven years. In one high-profile case this year, a gamekeeper was convicted of multiple accounts of wildlife crime on Longformacus Estate, including killing protected birds of prey, but the Crown Office did not proceed with a vicarious liability prosecution.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“It’s unacceptable that Scotland’s birds of prey continue to be slaughtered illegally with little or no repercussion. Vicarious liability was touted by the Scottish Government as a strong response to this appalling illegality but seven years on it’s clear that it’s not working. Raptor persecution persists, and there have only been two successful convictions under this provision
“By making landowners accountable for the actions of their employees, vicarious liability was meant to act a deterrent, spurring estates and the shooting industry to clean up their act, but it clearly has not worked. The Scottish Greens are therefore calling for a review of the law, with a view to strengthening it as part of the Scottish Government’s Animals and Wildlife Bill that will shortly be making it’s way through parliament.”