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Rural communities across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland will now benefit from a number of wildlife related officers within their areas.
All 18 officers have recently undertaken a five-day wildlife training course to gain a better understanding of rural issues and laws.
Wildlife crime includes hare coursing, poaching and interfering with protected species such as badgers.
Traditionally, rural crime has been under represented due to the lack of understanding around wildlife crime and issues that may arise. With the introduction of 18 specially trained officers, it will encourage better working relationships between the communities and the police, as well as helping other neighbourhood officers understand rural crime issues.
PC James Johnson has worked for Leicestershire Police for seven and a half years and has recently taken on the role as a wildlife officer alongside his day-to-day duties as a beat officer.
He said: “This is something that has always been close to my heart. My great-grandparents had a farm that was passed down the family. My dad grew up on a farm and I have also married into a farming family, so it’s always something that has been in my life.
“It’s an issue that’s very personal to me and I look forward to giving something back to the community and providing a good service from the force.”
PC Jon Barlow is another officer to join the wildlife team. He said: “For the past three years I have been the local beat officer for a rural beat, so this new role brings a number of great challenges investigating these kinds of incidents and working with the community.”
Sergeant Peter Jelbert, said: “Leicestershire and Rutland are very rural counties, so to be able to learn and refresh our knowledge of legislation which has an effect on our rural communities, will be a real bonus.
“The greatest positive will be to our rural communities and to other partnerships such as the RSCPA.”
For more information on rural crime visit the force’s rural crime pages.