DEVON and Cornwall Police has been hailed as one of the leading forces in the country for tackling wildlife crime by the World Animal Protection (formerly WSPA).

Officers have recently been trained to combat bat persecution and have made significant arrests in an investigation into dog-fighting.

Devon and Cornwall are also one of the leading forces in the UK feeding intelligence back to the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).

Vitally, this provides an accurate perspective of wildlife crime intelligence across England and Wales.

Sgt David Knight, Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer for Devon and Cornwall said: “Devon and Cornwall Police acknowledge the impact that wildlife crime can and does have on both communities and on our fauna and flora. We have embarked on a training programme with partner organisations such as the Cornwall Bat Group, Devon Bat Group and Cornwall College to provide much needed specialised training.

"Devon and Cornwall Police have improved the way in which wildlife crime is recorded following the training of our Command and Control Unit staff. This has led to an increase in the amount of wildlife crime reported which in turn provides us with a clearer picture.

“We continue to raise the profile of wildlife crime in order to provide reassurance to our rural communities.”

The animal protection charity recently released YouGov opinion polling of UK respondents, that demonstrates of those living in South West England three quarters believe all wildlife crime offences should be made recordable.

The figures follow a UK-wide trend and coincides with the news from the Home Office that from April 2014, some wildlife crime offences now have their own separate classification for police officers when recording these types of crimes.