§ Lord Northfield
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether their attention has been drawn to the Thames Television programme on 17th March, entitled "Reporting London", which gave evidence of widespread poaching of deer in South-Eastern counties; whether they propose to take action to control such poaching, and whether they are satisfied that magistrates are imposing adequate penalties and that game dealers' registers are properly checked.
The Minister of State, Home Office (The Earl of Caithness)
Out attention has been drawn to the programme and we share the concern about poaching which it expressed. Poaching of deer is an offence under the Deer Acts 1963 and 1980 punishable with a fine of up to £1,000, or three months' imprisonment, or both. The 1980 Act also empowers local authority and police officers to inspect the books and records which licensed game dealers are required to keep. The Government have no day-to-day responsibility for 681WA administration of the Acts, and of course cannot intervene in the sentencing decisions of the courts. But we are most concerned that all crime, including poaching offences, should be vigorously pursued and suitably punished. We are confident that the police and local authorities and the courts entirely share this concern.