Honour for Cumbria Police wildlife crime officer John Shaw

Lincolnshire chief constable Richard Compton, left and Pc John Shaw
Image caption PC John Shaw, right, received his award from the chief constable of Lancashire Richard Compton

When John Shaw joined Cumbria Police as a beat bobby 24 years ago, an award from a world conservation organisation was not an immediate ambition.

But being named Wildlife Crime Enforcer of the year by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has justified the 48-year-old PC's decision to focus on rural crime.

A long-established interest in the environment prompted him to switch from traditional policing duties in 2008.

Since then wildlife crime detection rates in Cumbria have soared by 800%.

PC Shaw, who is based in Keswick, initially took on the wildlife crime role as a part-time add-on to his other duties. But his success prompted the force to make the post a permanent one two years later and appointed him Wildlife, Rural and Environmental Officer.

'Can't cry out'

The WWF award recognises his "outstanding commitment" to detecting wildlife crime and pursuing criminals. He beat off other nominations from the UK Border Agency, Natural England, Countryside Commission and the Environment Agency.

"There are some very cruel and nasty people out there", said PC Shaw, who lives in Carlisle with his wife and three children.

"I've never been in to bird watching or anything like that, but have always been aware of the environment and particularly some of the cruel things some people do to animals.

"In Cumbria, there has been a big demand from the community for this sort of policing approach, as we have a lot of rustling and poaching.

"Poaching is the biggest problem, be it hares, deer or badgers. Wildlife crime is sometimes seen as victimless, but it's not.

"There are sadistic and violent people who snare, trap and kill animals for money.

"Animals can't cry out and for a long time I felt I wanted to do something to help."

PC Shaw said he also relished reinforcing the importance of tackling rural crime to community groups and children in schools.

He received his award from Lincolnshire's chief constable Richard Crompton at a special ceremony in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

His own chief constable Craig Mackey, said: "I am really proud of John. I'm so pleased that he has been presented with this award which shows that his hard work is not just recognised by colleagues and communities in Cumbria, but also by some of the nation's leading wildlife experts.

"Since John took on this role, wildlife crime has become more of a focus for the force. He has provided training to officers across the county to raise awareness of environmental and wildlife legislation and his enthusiasm and commitment to his role has seen detection rates soar by 800%."

Heather Sohl, senior species policy officer with the WWF in the UK said: "It is always fantastic to be able to celebrate the amazing achievements of wildlife law enforcement officers that have dedicated so much time and energy to supporting the cause of protecting wildlife.

"We are immensely grateful for the work John does to prevent serious harm to so many species."

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