Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime(Scotland)
The PAW Wildlife Crime Unit Caravan is an asset used by the partnership to attend various events around the country. The unit is mainly staffed by police wildlife crime officers however representatives from other partnership organisations are more than welcome to come along to help out.
The objective of the unit is to educate the public on the wildlife that abounds in Scotland and the sorts of crimes committed against it. It also provides an approachable portal where members of the public can discuss their concerns and obtain guidance on how to proceed if they think that they know of wildlife offences being committed.
Below are three of the main events that the unit will be attending during 2012, along with a quick synopsis of the event. If you are thinking of attending any of these events please feel free to drop into the unit for a chat.
Police wildlife crime officers will also be attending a number of smaller events throughout Scotland over the coming year and a list of where they will be will be posted on the PAW Scotland Website when dates have been confirmed.
RSPB Scottish Birdfair
19th-20th May 2012
The Scottish Birdfair is a new event scheduled to take place at Hopetoun House, South Queensferry. The event is intended to showcase Scottish bird watching and conservation. The event is aimed at families and individuals with an interest in the countryside, conservation and bird watching. With this event being held close to Edinburgh and other urban conurbations it should prove very popular.
Royal Highland Show
21st –24th June 2012
This is a well established annual event which is open to members of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society and the public alike. Visitors are attracted to the show from all over Scotland, the UK and the world. In 2011 the show had a gate of over 183,000 visitors. During the first two days of the show, the majority of visitors are farmers, persons connected with the farm trade, press, government and school children. The last two days are busy with the general public. There is a lot of advertising within the Scottish press on the lead up to and during this event which attracts a lot of people who may not otherwise have visited.
The police wildlife crime officers have been attending the show in some shape or form for the last 7 years. However in the last 4 years with the help of the Scottish Government have utilised the PAW(S) caravan in 4th Avenue. This being the best site with the RSPB and SLE also having stalls in the Avenue and BASC and Countryside Alliance being close by.
In the past 2 years a number of actionable pieces of intelligence have been received at the caravan from members of the public which would not have been reported had the Police not been represented through PAW(S).
At the 2011 show a number of traps and snares were displayed at the front of the caravan which attracted a lot of interest from all walking past. As a result of this the PAW(S) Caravan was the busiest it has ever been at the show. A conscious effort was made to move away from handing “freebies” out to children and to engage with adults in an attempt to obtain useful feedback and spread the PAW(S) message.
GWCT Scottish Gamefair
29th June – 1st July
The Scottish Gamefair is a well established country fair having been held at Scone Estate, Perth for a number of years. It is organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The show is the premier countryside pursuits show held within Scotland, with last years show having 36,000 visitors. Persons attending the show come from all over Scotland and the north of England and due to the time of year and press coverage many holiday makers visit. With exhibitors covering everything from country clothing to hunting and fishing hardware to cookery and fresh produce to art and crafts a good mix of visitors are attracted.
Wildlife crime officers from Tayside Police have had a display at the show for the last 10 years and for the past 5 years the event has been funded through PAW(S). This year the focus of the display will be new WANE bill changes and the NWCU priorities. A lot of debate amongst countryside users has stemmed from previous displays at the PAW(S) caravan. A PAW(S) presence at this event also allows any party wishing to discuss any issues in an open forum with Police and partner agencies. The show ground is fairly compact and in previous years the PAW(S) caravan has been parked centrally.
PC Ruaraidh Hamilton
Lothian & Borders Police