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Wildlife supercop set up and leads record-breaking team targeting wildlife crime. 

When it comes to dealing with the vital but often-overlooked issue of wildlife crime, Inspector Kev Kelly follows a simple rule. “I will treat an animal as a victim of crime like I would a person. People may think I’m barking mad but you are giving a consistent level of service,” he says. 

In 2017, the animal-loving police officer was named as Wildlife Law Enforcer of the Year at the Wildlife Crime Conference for his tireless and innovative work in tackling rural crime in North Yorkshire. 

He initially started working on offences that affected animals in his spare time but persuaded bosses to set up a dedicated wildlife team. He is now influencing national and regional policy in tackling criminals involved in illegal activities like hare coursing, setting templates for investigations and how to interview suspects. 

His job varies from protecting bats and great crested newts to prosecuting people involved in illegal fox-hunting and the killing of birds of prey. His award followed a year in which his team made a record 101 arrests for wildlife crime offences and he led an investigation called Operation Jumbo, that targetted hare coursing, badgering and animal cruelty. 

He has secured convictions for badger baiting, bat disturbance, greater crested newts habitat destruction and raptor persecution, and in 2008, also secured North Yorkshire Police’s first ever convictions under the Hunting Act against three men involved in fox hunting.