The need to protect Derbyshire’s wildlife is being spotlighted by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles from Monday to Sunday this week (19 October – 25 October) as he urges anyone coming across cruelty or illegal hunting to report it.
Together with Derbyshire Constabulary and its 32 trained wildlife crime officers (WCOs), the Commissioner is supporting the nation’s Wildlife Crime Awareness Week.
Keen to back all efforts to ensure the safety of the county’s abundant wildlife, including birds of prey, badgers, otters and hares, Mr Charles believes that greater awareness among the public can play a crucial role in protecting these creatures.
And, to keep up to speed with how officers tackle wildlife crime, he took the time to join the WCOs at their latest training day.
These officers, who carry out every day police duties but also have specialist wildlife training, focus on detecting all kinds of wildlife crime from exploitation of natural habitats by serious and organised criminal gangs to the persecution of rare species for no particular reason.
Commissioner Charles is determined to preserve the natural heritage of the county for residents and the millions of visitors who arrive every year. Since his election he has made tackling the problem and raising awareness one of his key priorities, with an additional 16 police officers trained to tackle wildlife crime and animal cruelty across the county this year.
He pointed out: “I know that the county’s rolling hills and picturesque landscape might not appear to fit with the traditional interpretation of serious organised crime, but it is nonetheless concealing an equally serious trade – the illegal hunting and abuse of endangered wildlife for profit.
“Serious and organised criminal gangs are exploiting these natural habitats for financial opportunities, including illegal egg collecting. Shockingly, some offenders have shown no motivation at all for their actions, choosing to persecute rare species of bird and other wildlife for inexplicable reasons.
“This has had serious consequences on goshawk and peregrine numbers in particular, with the RSPB previously expressing concern over the future of their populations in the High Peak.”
Earlier this month, a continuing development day at Derbyshire Police Headquarters was attended by the county’s WCOs and their colleagues from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire police forces. Their training enabled them to meet the Natural England Disturbance Licence requirements, which they need when looking for evidence in a damaged badger set.
Among the five speakers who talked about different areas of wildlife crime were Bill Cove of the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group and Irene Brierton of Mid-Derbyshire Badger Group. Also speaking were Andy Williams from the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Caroline Harrison from Natural England and Lee Watts from the Environment Agency.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Tuesday 20th October 2015