Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Raptor Persecution in Scotland

Project Image

People Involved

Project Description

Drs Soliman and Wooff are designing a project examining raptor persecution in Scotland. One of the six UK wildlife crime priority areas, the illegal killing of birds of prey is primarily associated with land management practices on driven grouse moors (Burnside et al., 2021). Often perpetrated in remote locations, offences are usually detected by passing members of the public or specialist investigators employed by the RSPB, who work in partnership with Police Scotland and other statutory agencies to gather evidence and share intelligence on raptor killings (RSPB, 2021). Data gathered by the RSPB and partnerships such as the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme suggest persecution remains frequent; however, detecting raptor killings, identifying perpetrators, and proving criminal intent remain difficult despite advances in veterinary forensics, and prosecutions are rare (McMorris et al., 2019; Scottish Government, 2022). In recent years Scottish legislation has widened the net of criminalisation, introduced harsher penalties, and extended vicarious liability for wildlife crimes to landowners, while the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill 2023 seeks to introduce licensing restrictions on several land management practices. Nevertheless, recorded persecution rates remain as high as ever (Scottish Government, 2022).

During preliminary conversations with members of Police Scotland Wildlife Unit, who support this project, officers expressed frustration at the rarity of successful prosecutions and their detrimental effect on levels of trust and confidence in the police. This research will engage with the stakeholders involved in the policing of raptor killings, exploring partnership work, and examining the structural factors that aid or impede convictions, in alignment with the Strategic Police Priorities for Scotland 2023-24 of “confidence”, “partnerships”, and “evidence”: aiding collaborative work, fostering relationships with local communities, and providing evidence helping deliver services meeting communities’ needs. This project also aligns with the SIPR strategic theme “Policing and Health, safety and well-being” by focussing on local policing, visibility and accessibility, police-community relations, and public confidence and legitimacy.

The Leverage fund will support our further application to the ESRC New Investigator Grant. SIPR funding will 1) facilitate the scoping of ideas and building the rationale for the project; 2) networking with stakeholders; 3) developing further contacts and mapping partners; 4) allow preliminary “seedcorn” data collection to shape the larger grant application. This will involve scoping field sites and conducting ride-alongs with public and private policing actors, proving the project’s alignment with the UKRI 2022-2027 strategic theme “Building a secure and resilient world” (strengthening of local social and economic resilience and improving awareness of risks and threats, preparedness, decision making, and response).


Burnside, E., Pamment, N., & Collins, A. (2021). “If it flies, it dies”: Profit, workplace pressure and Bird of Prey persecution. Journal of Rural Studies, 86, 54–61.
McMorris, H., Sturrock, K., Gentles, D., Jones, B. J., & Farrugia, K. J. (2019). Environmental effects on magnetic fluorescent powder development of fingermarks on bird of prey feathers. Science & Justice, 59(2), 117–124.
RSPB. (2021). 2021 Birdcrime - Fighting raptor persecution.
Scottish Government. (2022). Wildlife crime in Scotland - 2020 Annual Report.

Status Project Live
Funder(s) Scottish Institute for Policing Research
Value £2,000.00
Project Dates Jul 1, 2023 - Jun 30, 2024

You might also like

The Special Constabulary in Scotland: Enhancing understanding of the motivations, roles and expectations of the Special Constable in Scotland Jan 1, 2019 - Dec 31, 2019
The number of special constables in Scotland have been dropping in recent years (Police Scotland, 2018), however, little has been done by researchers to explore the reasons behind these rates of attrition and lower levels of recruitment. With special... Read More about The Special Constabulary in Scotland: Enhancing understanding of the motivations, roles and expectations of the Special Constable in Scotland.

Policing a Crisis: A narrative account of pandemic policing, technological opportunities and ethical challenges Oct 1, 2020 - Sep 30, 2025
This PhD Studentship will employ narrative inquiry to map the technological opportunities and ethical challenges faced by Police Scotland when responding to the Pandemic. By inviting frontline officers, managers, and police staff to tell their story... Read More about Policing a Crisis: A narrative account of pandemic policing, technological opportunities and ethical challenges.