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The National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) is to train police forces in an initiative to improve law enforcement in rural areas and reduce the wrongful arrest of gamekeepers and other members of the shooting community.

A new NGO one-day course titled Gamekeeping and the Law: Training for the Police is being offered free of charge to officers and civilians within any police force in England and Wales.

It is designed for those who wish to know more about what keepers do, what the law actually says on things such as trapping, shooting, poaching and other rural crimes, and shows how keepers and the police can work together.

The printed course material has been endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Representatives of every police force at the National Wildlife Crime Enforcers Conference said that they would like the course to be delivered to their staff, and Sussex, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire forces have each asked for more than 100 employees to be trained by the NGO.

The first training session will take place in Hertfordshire later this month and others will follow rapidly.

The training will be carried out by the NGOs two development officers,

Louise Stimson and Tim Weston, with assistance from local NGO gamekeeper members. Lindsay Waddell, the NGO chairman, said: “We are doing this for gamekeeping and for the whole rural community. The police want to do their best, but with staff cutbacks and many officers having no background in the countryside there have been bad misunderstandings in the recent past and sometimes wrongful arrests. The obvious thing is to explain to the police what gamekeepers do, what the law says and how we can help each other.”

Chief constable Richard Crompton, who leads for ACPO on all rural policing issues, said: “The attendance of the National Gamekeepers? Organisation at this year?s National Wildlife Crime Enforcers? Conference was very welcome. The production of training materials and the offer to provide input to police training is further welcome evidence of a maturing partnership.”

For further details, contact Tim Weston, tel 07590 885512