A 'TASK force' will start work this summer to consider whether the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should be given extra powers to investigate wildlife crime.

During the Scottish Parliament’s recent consideration of the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, the Scottish Government committed to considering the powers of the Scottish SPCA, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has since agreed that an independently-chaired task force will be established and convene later in the summer, with a view to reporting to Ministers next spring.

Ms Gougeon said: “We will finalise the detailed remit and membership very soon, with a view to the task force starting work later this summer. The Scottish Government will give full consideration to their findings when they report next year.”

While the remit of the task force is still to be finalised, it is expected to include whether current legislation is sufficient to enable the Scottish SPCA to carry out their existing functions in relation to the investigation of welfare offences against wild animals and whether extended powers should be considered to enable them to carry out additional functions in relation to the investigation of wildlife crimes.