Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Schedule 5 - Enforcement powers in connection with wildlife

Part of Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 28th June 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

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) 6:15 pm, 28th June 2005

I cannot promise to do so. However, if it helps, section 67(9) of PACE requires that persons other than police officers who are charged with the duty of investigating offences or charging offenders shall, in the discharge of that duty, have regard to any   relevant provision of a code. Therefore, if they are investigating offences or charging offenders, they must have due regard to the code. There might be implications if they are accompanying a constable at the constable’s invitation when entering premises. It is important for the Committee to recognise that inspectors undertake activities that are not related to offences, in which cases the code does not apply. That is where the confusion might lie for any or all of us, and that is about as far as I can go in attempting to clarify things for the hon. Gentleman. The letter that I write to the Committee to explain the difference between the functions of an inspector and those of a constable might help to clarify the issue as well.

Amendments Nos. 117 and 118 both introduce a requirement for a wildlife inspector to have reasonable grounds to suspect an offence before exercising powers to enter and inspect premises, and as they are similar I shall deal with them together. Wildlife inspectors have never needed reasonable suspicion of an offence before exercising their enforcement provisions under the 1981 Act. Enhanced powers for authorised wildlife inspectors are available for a number of purposes, including ensuring that licence conditions are being complied with and verifying statements that are made in the context of licence applications. Those are some of the activities that are referred to that are not part of investigating offences.

The circumstances of those inspections differ from those in which an offence is suspected. Such compliance visits ensure the integrity and enhance the credibility of the licensing system, and there is no requirement for inspectors to have reasonable suspicion to enter land in that regard. That is consistent with the wording of the 1981 Act, which is working well, and we see no reason to change it. I therefore ask that the amendment be withdrawn.