A POLICEMAN who was voted one of the best in the business in 2011 has stepped down after 26 years of serving in Cumbria.

PC John Shaw is retiring ahead of Christmas but leaves behind a strong legacy through his work in wildlife crime.

He became the county’s wildlife crime co-ordinator in 2008 and then became the constabulary’s dedicated wildlife, rural and environmental officer two years later.

He was awarded for his outstanding commitment to pursuing wildlife criminals in 2011 when he received the National Wildlife Crime Enforcer of the Year award.

Since his appointment, detection rates for recorded wildlife crime have soared by 800 per cent.

PC Shaw said: “I have really enjoyed the role, which is very challenging and requires a lot of knowledge and hard work, but I am leaving with the feeling that I have made a difference and I am proud of what has been achieved in Cumbria in tackling wildlife crime.

“Crimes against nature can be cruel, distressing and often mindless, so it is important that it is reported to police and investigated thoroughly. We have made significant progress in encouraging people to report these crimes.”

PC Helen Felton has taken up his role, having been an officer for four years, but working as a PCSO before that.

Her first task will be to promote the county’s new Shine A Light on Wildlife and Environ-mental Crime campaign.

PC Felton said: “I am very happy and excited to have been given the opportunity to become the dedicated wildlife officer.

“PC Shaw’s shoes will be difficult to fill and I hope that I will be able to carry on the hard work that he started in raising the profile of wildlife crime.”