"I thought it might be an idea to inform readers of the blog how being a Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) operates within the Devon and Cornwall Police (D&C). This may help to manage the expectations of the public as to what they can expect from a WCO in D&C.
When you first join as a Police Officer you undergo 6 months mainly classroom based training. This is followed by a further 3 months on the street under the guidance of a tutor who after this period monitors you through the rest of your 2 year student officer training. You go back every 6 weeks or so for follow up classroom based training.
After a year of joining I volunteered for the role of Wildlife Crime Officer, I taught myself various aspects of the law surrounding wildlife. Last year however I managed to obtain funding to attend the national foundation wildlife crime course at NPIA Bramshill, which D&C are hoping to get for all of our WCO’s on soon!
The role is not a full time position for me and is undertaken alongside my regular police work. Other forces in the north of the country I am aware employ full time WCO's and with better public awareness and the increase in reported wildlife crimes in our two counties I am hoping that will be the case here in the future. I am thankfully, fortunate enough to have supportive supervisors who enable me to spend time where necessary to work on my wildlife duties.
All of our WCO’s are committed wildlife crime officers in Devon and Cornwall, each having their own area of specialisation and expertise. I personally concentrate on the law surrounding wild birds and the connected offences although I regularly deal with incidents involving hunting, badgers and bats. I know that if I am contacted regarding an issue involving a topic I am unfamiliar with, I have colleagues who I can turn to for advice. I like to think that I can reciprocate that advice in my area of operations. We work as a team but are spread over the largest geographical policing area in the country!
What you can expect from WCO's here is a committed service from people passionate about detecting and preventing wildlife crime in Devon and Cornwall."
PC Josh Marshall