Nearly 20 new 'Wildlife Crime' officers will be trained as part of a new commitment to support rural communities from West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion.

He has released funding, which was then allocated for the training of 17 additional officers across the region.

These individuals are regular officers that have completed specialist training that allows them to provide guidance and support around investigating wildlife offences. The number of wildlife officers, based around West Mercia, has now been brought up to 30.

Mr Campion said: “These additional wildlife officers are an excellent step forward in giving communities reassurance that we are listening to their concerns.

"By giving police officers this specialist training, to investigate these crimes, will help in reducing the number of people and animals being affected.”

Wildlife crime describes offences that often involve cruelty and the unlawful killing of wild mammals and birds and the destruction of plant life. This can include crimes such as: hare coursing; deer poaching; hunting with dogs; and badger persecution. It can also include the buying or selling of endangered species from around the world – such as ivory.

However, this crime doesn’t just affect wildlife, perpetrators can often be involved in other associated crimes such as ASB, theft, criminal damage and, in some case, wildlife crime has shown to be a financial avenue for supporting criminal gangs.

The funding has also bought forensic kits, which allows the officers to gather evidence there and then without relying on another team to come out.

Superintendent Sue Thomas added: “It’s great to have a number of officers trained in wildlife matters who can then support and advise the wider workforce to ensure that we are able to respond to wildlife matters in an appropriate way.

“The training is essential to raise awareness and give officers the confidence to address and investigate wildlife crimes.”

The enforcement of wildlife crime often involves and requires partnership with other agencies outside the police, including governmental and non-governmental bodies.