Wildlife PC calls it a day

PC Andy Swinburne.

PC Andy Swinburne.

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A POLICE officer who has helped to protect Northumberland’s wildlife is retiring next month.

Since April 2005, PC Andy Swinburne has performed the role of Wildlife Crime Officer on top of his normal duties as a Neighbourhood Beat Manager in Berwick.

During this time, the man who has served Northumbria Police for 30 years has been actively involved in many complex wildlife crime investigations covering a wide range of offences.

These include the illegal trade of whales’ teeth and ivory, the illegal taking, possession and selling of wild birds eggs, badger baiting and cock fighting.

He has also been involved in a series of preventative operations such as the annual roseate terns operation on Coquet Island.

PC Swinburne has built up strong links with partnership agencies under the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW), including the RSPCA, RSPB, Defra, Natural England, Northumberland Badger Trust, National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit and Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

In 2009, he was nominated for the prestigious UK Wildlife Enforcer of the Year award given by the World Wildlife Fund and in 2010 he was awarded a PAW Certificate of Merit in recognition of his dedicated service in combating wildlife crime.

PC Swinburne said: “It is vitally important to continue the protection of our rich heritage of habitat and wildlife in Northumberland and also contribute to the wider world picture.

“I have had a terrific time helping to protect our wildlife and wish to say thank you to all the partner agencies without whose assistance the fight against wildlife crime would be incomplete.

“I am really pleased to welcome two newly-appointed Wildlife Crime Officers to Northumberland Area Command – PC Michael Leyborne, who will cover the South East and North Northumberland areas, and PC Colin Heath, who will cover the East and West Tynedale areas. A third officer, PC Steve Crane, will also assist PC Leyborne in the Berwick Police Sector.

“I have every confidence in these officers to carry on and progress the fight against wildlife crime.”