A Leicestershire Police wildlife officer responsible for investigating allegations of illegal fox hunting as part of her role is coming under pressure to leave her post – over claims she is a member of the Belvoir Hunt Club.
Melton Pc Sharon Roscoe’s role, as rural crimes officer, also involves investigating incidents of illegal traps, game poaching, badger baiting and other breaches of wildlife law.
However, campaigners from the Hunt Saboteurs Association are claiming Pc Roscoe has a conflict of interests and have now launched a petition demanding she is removed from her post.
More than 1,000 people have signed the petition and campaigners have also written to Chief Constable Simon Cole and Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader asking for answers.
The letter reads: “Pc Sharon Roscoe rides regularly with the Belvoir Hunt, whilst simultaneously having responsibility for wildlife and rural crimes within Leicestershire. We feel these two positions are completely untenable.”
Campaigners claim she is in breach of the Police Regulations 2003 which forbids officers from activities which compromise their impartiality.
The letter goes on: “A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression among members of the public that it may so interfere.
“We would therefore ask that you remove Pc Roscoe from her current role and assign her to alternative duties.
“We would also ask that you also consider membership of any pro or anti-hunting, fishing, shooting or other field sports associations when making further appointments to this and similar roles.”
A Facebook campaign calling on Pc Roscoe to resign has received mixed reactions.
Peter Meehan posted: “How can she run the hunt and then look after nature? That is two-faced. The chief constable should remove her immediately.”
Meanwhile Louise Kennedy wrote: “I don’t see why this should necessarily be a conflict. Could she not be someone who just enjoys a good gallop with a load of other horse-people?”
Leicestershire Police said it was aware of the situation.
A force spokeswoman said: “All police officers and staff are expected to carry out their duties with fairness and impartiality in line with our national Code of Ethics.
“Any officers who see the law being broken are expected to take action whether they are on or off duty.
“National guidance around hunting does not prevent officers from taking part in legal and lawful hunt activities outside of work.”
Lee Moon, spokesman for the national branch of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, said: “Leicestershire Police need to take a serious look at their procedures when it comes to employing people in these positions.”