A police wildlife officer who has helped convict offenders that have inflicted pain and suffering on animals is to receive a British Citizen Award.
PC Peter Baker is to be recognised for his services to the community by receiving a coveted British Citizen Award Medal of Honour.
The Southwick-based cop, now in his 17th year of service, has worked closely with the RSPCA to secure a number of recent convictions against pet owners who have neglected, mistreated or abused animals in their care.
He has also worked with animal groups to deliver educational sessions at schools across Wearside – in a bid to “inspire the next generation of animal protectors”.
PC Baker is one of only 25 individuals selected across the UK to receive an award for their positive impact on society, selfless giving and commitment to their community.
“It is truly humbling to be considered for this award,” PC Baker, 39, said. “I’ve always been an animal lover and grew up having pets – Jasper the rabbit, two stick insects called Dennis and Menace, and a dog called Kelly.
“So it is my dream job to be a wildlife officer and be tasked with pursuing anyone who threatens the welfare of animals.
“I don’t do this for recognition, I do it because I’m passionate about animals and strongly believe those who mistreat or neglect animals should be punished and have their day in court.
“I’m incredibly fortunate to work with some fantastic colleagues and partners, including the RSPCA, who carry out joint animal welfare visits at addresses across the North East. If a criminal offence has been committed, police can then seize the animals and assist with the owner’s prosecution.
“We also do a lot of educational work in schools in order to teach the next generation of the importance of looking after animals. I’m blown away to be considered for this accolade and am looking forward to continuing my work over the coming months and beyond.”
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Winton Keenen led the praise for PC Baker and says he is a ‘deserved recipient’ of the honour.
“I am delighted PC Peter Baker’s efforts are being recognised nationally and that he is to receive this award – it is richly deserved.” Chief Constable Winton Keenen said.
“He should be incredibly proud of the important work he has carried out and the difference he continues to make in improving animal welfare.
“PC Baker has shown great passion and dedication in his role, and, as a Force, we are committed to tackling animal and wildlife crimes.”
The dedicated wildlife officer role forms part of Northumbria Police’s wider commitment to tackling such offences across the Force.
Last year, PC Baker received a Special Recognition award at the RSPCA’s Pawprints Awards in London in acknowledgement of the positive impact he has made on animal welfare across the region.
He is due to return to the capital to receive his British Citizen Award Medal of Honour later this year, subject to the latest restrictions, for a special ceremony hosted by TV presenter Tim Vincent, with British Citizen Award Patrons Lord Dholakia and Dame Mary Perkins due to be in attendance.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I am so made up for Peter – he’s such a stand-out character and I know it’s a cliché but he really does go above and beyond.
“Anyone or anything needing help - Peter is there to the rescue, wanting to sort the situation. I first met him when we were both at the opening of a community hub in Sunderland and from the moment I started talking to him his passion to make a difference and his caring nature really shone through.
“He’s a credit to Northumbria Police, that’s for sure, and I’m so glad he’s getting the recognition for all that he does.”
The British Citizen Award (BCA) was established in 2015 to recognise exceptional individuals and true community heroes who would otherwise likely be overlooked.
Each Medal of Honour bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice yearly.
Jonny McQuarrie, Managing Director from BCA partner One Stop, said: “Every time a new group of medallists is selected we are reminded of the great voluntary work that takes place across the nation.
“We serve many communities through our One Stop convenience stores and we know how vital this work is. The individuals that are being recognised reflect all that is good about community spirit.
“It is important, now more than ever, for us to be involved in the BCA awards and we are privileged to play a small part in helping them to be recognised. Our congratulations go to all 25 honourees.”