The Scottish Government announced it would commission a research project into the value of restorative justice and empathy-based interventions for offenders against animals – something OneKind had been advocating for since 2014.

OneKind first raised the value of empathy training when giving evidence to the Poustie review of wildlife crime penalties in 2014, and the suggestion became a recommendation in Professor Poustie’s report.

The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill provided an opportunity to advance this idea. We carried out research into international models of nuanced community justice systems and engaged with contacts in fields not normally associated with animal welfare, including criminal justice and social work. This allowed us to refine our recommendations, particularly to include restorative justice – a suggestion that was then picked up on and approved of by several MSPs speaking in Parliament. Throughout the progress of the Bill OneKind led and informed this conversation and advised MSPs lodging amendments on the topic.

Ultimately none of those amendments passed. However, the Scottish Government saw the merit in the proposal and commissioned the research. In announcing this, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said, “I am pleased to have the support of OneKind for the project, and I look forward to the research involving that organisation and other stakeholders such as the Scottish SPCA and criminal justice social workers.” OneKind Policy Officer Kirsty Jenkins was appointed to the research advisory group for this project.

The research resulted in a report published in 2022.