Rural Crime Features Prominently on the Agenda of Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner
One of the first decisions Mr Johnston made when he was elected was to retain the Animal Welfare Scheme, so he was keen to build on this and meet those who specialise in this field.
Dr Sean Christian, Head of Conservation for RSPB, and Rachel Evans, the Director for Country Alliance Wales, were both keen to get the Commissioner's support and reassurance that rural crime will feature on his agenda as prominently as urban crime.
Dr Sean Christian raised issues of bird related criminality in Gwent and asked for support relating to wildlife and bird protection legislation, and the Commissioner was able to reassure Rachel Evans that agricultural issues including fly grazing, fly tipping and thefts of metal and fuel were being addressed.
Following the meetings, Mr Johnston said;
"These meetings were extremely positive and gave me the opportunity to reiterate my commitment to tackling wildlife crime.
"I am pleased to say that we have dedicated Wildlife and Forgotten Landscape officers in Gwent, and some of their core responsibilities include tackling the issues raised in my meetings. They work closely with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and partner agencies such as the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission, and are responsible for enforcing wildlife laws and preventing wildlife crime.
"We have had much success to date in Gwent in tackling metal theft, which has significantly reduced over the last couple of years. Additionally, our Chief Constable, Carmel Napier, owns the ACPO Cymru Community Safety portfolio, and has established an all Wales multi agency group to take a co-ordinated and robust approach to tackle Fly Grazing so we are very committed to furthering our work in this area."
"There is always more work to do however, and I thank the RSPB and Countryside Alliance representatives for coming along and raising the issues that matter most to them and their members."