A NORTH Yorkshire wildlife crime officer has received a national award for his work.

Sergeant Kev Kelly was named Wildlife Law Enforcer of the year at the Wildlife Crime Conference on Friday.

The awards look at proven success in tackling crime over the course of the previous year, use of innovative techniques, dedication and other criteria.

The judging panel was made up of government departments and representatives of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which also sponsored the awards.

Sgt Kelly has been in his role of Wildlife Crime Officer with North Yorkshire Police for ten years and while a PC at Selby would tackle hare coursing and poaching on his days off.

He has achieved convictions for bat disturbance, greater crested newts habitat destruction and raptor persecution and secured North Yorkshire Police’s first ever conviction under the Hunting Act 2004.

He said: “I would not be in this position if it wasn't for my team of dedicated and committed officers.

“I am now Acting Inspector and the force operational lead for Wildlife Crime within our rural taskforce team and responsible for the twenty one Wildlife Crime Officers across the force.

“My team and I work relentlessly in our aim to tackle wildlife crime. However, we could not do this without successful partnership working. We work with the RSPB, Paw members, RSPCA, WWF and NWCU to safeguard our wildlife for us all to enjoy.

“We also need the public to play their part. You are our eyes and ears. We encourage you to report anything suspicious, or any concerns to us and we will review all of the information and take any necessary action to protect our wildlife”.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force said: “Kevin is hugely passionate in his role.

" frequently leads from the front on wildlife crime investigations, using his enthusiasm, knowledge, and experience to positively influence others.”