A Northumbria Police wildlife officer has won a prestigious award after helping to bring animal abusers to justice.
PC Peter Baker, 39, has won a Special Recognition accolade after RSPCA inspectors and staff highlighted his positive impact on animal welfare across the North East.
The Southwick-based cop, who has been with the Force since 2003, will receive the accolade at the RSPCA’s PawPrints Awards to be held in London in November.
By working closely with the RSPCA, PC Baker has managed to secure a string of recent convictions against animal owners who have neglected, mistreated or abused pets in their care.
“We are a nation of animal lovers and I’m no different,” PC Baker said. “I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a pet – when I was growing up I had a dog called Kelly who was a pup, as well as Jasper the rabbit and two stick insects called Dennis and Menace.
“I’ve always been passionate about animals since I was a little boy, so in many ways, being a wildlife officer is my perfect job.
“I strongly believe that people who hurt, neglect or abuse animals should be prosecuted, and it’s my role to ensure anybody who does threaten the welfare of animals is brought to justice.
“That’s what spurs me on every single day – to make a difference – and I have a great working relationship with the RSPCA which allows us to carry out joint animal welfare visits at identified addresses that they are concerned about.
“If a criminal offence has been committed, police can then seize the animals and assist with the owner’s prosecution. There have been a number of high-profile cases and convictions over the last few months that wouldn’t have been possible without effective partnership work.
“Nobody does this job for recognition, but it’s an absolute honour to win the award – I’m chuffed to bits, and I’m looking forward to continuing to showcase my passion and commitment to the public in bringing those who hurt or abuse animals before the courts.”
Among the successful recent convictions secured by PC Baker and the RSPCA was dog breeder Lynn Stoker, 63, who was jailed for 21 weeks and banned from owning animals for life earlier this month.
Stoker, of Byrness Village, Northumberland, left more than 100 animals to suffer in crowded cages and with no drinking water – with many found to have ear infections and dental issues after a warrant was executed at her address.
In April this year, PC Baker also helped to secure the conviction and imprisonment of a Sunderland-based poacher who made shocking videos of his whippet brutally killing wild foxes. The 21-year-old was banned from owning animals for 10 years.
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenen will accompany PC Baker to the ceremony later this year and reiterated the importance of his work.
“PC Baker has shown an incredible commitment to improving animal welfare across Northumbria and he is a deserved winner of this award,” Chief Constable Keenen said.
“He should be incredibly proud of what he has achieved, and I know the public will join me in thanking PC Baker for his dedication and professionalism while carrying out his vital work.
“As a Force we are committed to making sure any owners or individuals who choose to abuse, neglect or mistreat animals are dealt with robustly.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Peter. His work and that of his colleagues are making a real difference.
"We are determined to tackle crimes that cause pain and harm to our wildlife and animals. Northumbria Police will do everything within their power to get those who abuse wildlife and animals before the courts.
"PC Baker’s work reinforces our determination to work with partners to prevent cruelty.”
Rachel Williams, Senior Parliamentary Advisor at the RSPCA, added: "PC Baker has made a huge difference to animal welfare in Northumbria.
"He is an invaluable support to the local RSPCA inspectorate team who nominated him for the award, and his commitment to animal welfare is beyond doubt."
PC Baker will be presented with his award at a special winner’s reception on November 26.