LANDSCAPE Crime Officer PC Rob Maddocks tackles a huge variety of environmental problems on a daily basis, from dealing with the illegal use of offroad bikes to badger-baiting, He has also taken part in an ambitious conservation scheme to protect the Blaenavon World Heritage Site and its surroundings.

He took part in the Forgotten Landscapes project area after residents and walkers and commoners raised concerns about the illegal use of off-road vehicles, fly-tipping, and grass fires in recent months.

PC Maddocks works with local authorities to clear up fly-tipping and prosecute offenders. He has all the powers of a regular officer, but uses them to target environmental crimes.

He issues fines, and patrols the area on a daily basis to deter people from committing crimes such as setting fire to parts of the mountainside.

He also has the power to confiscate off-road motorbikes and can issue warning notices to owners of off-road vehicles for riding illegally on the heritage landscape.

PC Maddocks visits schools and community groups to raise awareness of landscape crime and explain how members of the public can report incidents.

There were 196 reports of wildlife crime reported to Gwent Police in the year 2008⁄2009 which included incidents of badger and bat persecution, fox hunting, bird trapping, poaching, poisoning and baiting and thefts of bird eggs and chicks.

PC Maddocks regularly takes part in joint inquiries with government agencies including the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales, and non-government agencies such as RSPB and local community groups.

He works closely with farming, landowning and game-keeping organisations and with organisations which have a working or leisure involvement with wildlife or the environment.

He said: “The countryside covered by the Forgotten Landscapes project is a beautiful area, which is currently being spoiled by a minority of people.

“Anybody caught riding off-road vehicles on the land, fly-tipping, or lighting fires will be prosecuted and could face a court appearance.

“My role within the project is to help protect and preserve the landscape, keeping it free from antisocial behaviour so it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area. I work to stop the persecution of badgers and bats, and prevent the destruction of habitats.

“I work on the Blorenge to protect the adders which live there.

“Illegal off-road biking is a major problem, as are wildfires.

“I would say they are the two most common. We take a multi-agency approach and I work closely with South Wales Fire and Rescue and local landowners to combat the problem. I also work with farmers and landowners to combat fly-tipping. From the intelligence I receive from them we can catch fly-tippers.

“I also work with local schools and youth groups to educate them about landscape and wildlife crime. We recently created a DVD for six- to ten-year-olds on how to stay safe in the countryside.

“The job can be hard because I am the only person doing it. I work long hours, but I love it.”

Issues PC Maddocks deals with include:

● Unlawful trapping/snaring of wild animals.

● Unlawful hunting of wild mammals.

● Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc wild birds.

● Taking/possessing/destroying wild birds eggs/nest disturbance.

● Badger persecution.

● Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc bats.

● Damaging protected sites.

● Unlawful poisoning of wildlife.

● Stealing wild plants.

● Unlawful hunting and poaching.

● Unlawful trade in endangered species.

● Off-road biking.

If you think a crime against wildlife or the environment has been committed in your local area, report it immediately on 101.

Fires and fly-tipping big issues

SO FAR in his career as landscape officer PC Maddocks has: Co-ordinated 15 illegal off-road operations;

● Brought more than 30 prosecutions/ fines for fly-tipping;

● Dealt with more than 30 incidents of wildlife crime;

● Worked with local farmers and commoners to develop fire plans for areas of vulnerable mountainside;

● Been involved in producing four multi-agency DVDs raising awareness of different landscape crimes, and given educational talks to more than 4,000 children regarding landscape crime.