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Schedule 5 - Enforcement powers in connection with wildlife

Part of Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity) 6:00 pm, 28th June 2005

I will do the best I can to help the hon. Gentleman. If I fail, we will go down the other route of correspondence, but I will do what I can now to satisfy him.

Amendments Nos. 115 to 118 would amend schedule 5, which enhances enforcement powers in relation to wildlife. The amendments attempt to restrict unnecessarily the appointment and operation of wildlife inspectors. Amendment No. 115 would insert a new subsection to restrict who can be authorised by the Secretary of State as a wildlife inspector to those who hold such qualifications as the Secretary of State may prescribe.

All wildlife inspectors receive appropriate training to ensure that they can carry out their duties in a professional and effective manner. It may help the Committee to know that the formal training for wildlife inspectors includes enforcement of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the wildlife incident investigation scheme, and the licensing of piscivorous birds, European protected species, badgers, non-piscivorous birds, and other mammals such as rabbits and deer. All licensing training includes study of the biology and behaviour of species, of legislation relating to species, and of licensing procedures   according to the agreed working instructions. As part of their continued professional development, all wildlife inspectors have the opportunity to attend other training courses within DEFRA and externally.

Wildlife inspectors might not have formal qualifications on paper, but DEFRA does everything it can to ensure that their work is of the high quality required of them in order to sustain their good reputation. The amendment would do nothing to increase the competence of wildlife inspectors beyond that which I have described, and I respectfully request that it be withdrawn.

Amendment No. 116 would introduce a new subsection requiring wildlife inspectors to comply with the codes of practice issued under PACE. If there is a legal obligation for them to have regard to the codes under PACE, they will, of course, do so, but they do not conduct criminal investigations and the codes do not apply. The amendment would add nothing to their obligations under PACE.

In an attempt to be helpful and to add a little more clarity—or complexity, depending on how one views it—I shall briefly answer three questions. Do inspectors comply with the codes? Where the role of a wildlife inspector relates to the investigation of offences, and section 67(9) of PACE applies—I am sure that we are all familiar with that—he or she will comply with the codes of practice.

Is failure to comply with the codes of practice an offence? No, under section 67(10)(b) of PACE a failure on the part of

“any person other than a police officer who is charged with the duty of investigating offences or charging offenders to have regard to any relevant provision of ... a code in the discharge of that duty, shall not of itself render him liable to any criminal or civil proceedings.”

What training will wildlife inspectors receive on PACE? As I have said, they will receive training to ensure that they are familiar with its requirements and the codes of practices.