Special Sergeant Oliver Woodrow and Special Constable Michael Davies, who are part of the Rural Task Force, have increased the number of qualified wildlife crime officers in Kent Police to 16 after successfully completing the one-week course.
The officers will share their specialist knowledge of wildlife offences when working with colleagues and planning operations.
Special Sergeant Woodrow explained: ‘The Rural Task Force carries out a very diverse range of duties and the law around wildlife offences can be complex.
‘The course has not only given me a theoretical knowledge of legislation but a practical understanding of why some of these offences take place. That’s a big help when handling incidents.’
Special Sergeant Woodrow has volunteered his time with the Kent Police Special Constabulary for 23 years, initially joining with the intention of becoming a Police Constable, however after joining the force as police staff he decided to have the best of both worlds and remain a Special Constable. He has now worked with the Rural Task Force for a year and has enjoyed the proactive nature of the team, he said:
‘I see this area of work as very interesting and diverse. I think it’s misunderstood that the rural team spend all their time stood in muddy fields in wellies. We do, but not all of the time.
‘The rural community makes up a large section of our county, they have specific types of problems as well as suffering the same crime as more urban areas such as thefts, burglaries and domestic abuse. We also carry out joint warrants with the RSPCA to close down puppy farms, where offenders run cruel enterprises to fund lavish lifestyles and other criminal activities.
‘We are here to tackle the issues that are important to the community and it gives me a sense of pride that I can give up my time to help do this.’
The rural special constables spend a lot of their time on proactive high-visibility patrols and liaise with farmers, gamekeepers, rural homeowners. They also operate joint patrols with the Environment Agency, tackling fishing-related offences under Operation Traverse. Despite the perceived low threat of fish poaching some large carp can be worth up to £5,000 each, that makes them of interest to criminals.
Special Constables help to build intelligence to tackle rural crime and offer reassurance to the community whilst supporting partnership working.