A Leicestershire Police officer has voluntarily stepped down from her role investigating wildlife crime after anti-hunting campaigners had highlighted her now former links with the Belvoir Hunt.
Pc Sharon Roscoe and her family had reportedly become increasingly concerned about online personal attacks, abuse and threatening comments made on social media.
Last month anti-hunt campaigners had launched a petition, demanding Pc Roscoe be removed from her wildlife officer post claiming her association with the Belvoir Hunt was a ‘conflict of interests’.
The petition, launched by the Hunt Saboteurs Association, was signed by more than 6,000 people.
Pc Roscoe’s wildlife officer role included responsibility for investigating allegations of illegal fox hunting as well as incidents of trapping, poaching badger baiting and other breaches of wildlife law.
A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: “Pc Roscoe voluntarily stepped down from her voluntary role as wildlife officer, retaining her wildlife officer qualifications.
“We’d like to stress that Pc Roscoe is not a member of the Belvoir or any other hunt and hasn’t been for some time.”
Anti-hunting organisations condemned any threatening or abusive messages.
Lee Moon, press spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, said: “We are pleased that Pc Roscoe is no longer in role but disappointed that Leicestershire Police felt it appropriate to place her in that role originally.
“It is rare to see a clearer conflict of interest for a police officer.
“We believe Leicestershire Police need to show a clear statement of intent as to where they stand in relation to illegal hunting and investigate this organised rural law breaking that is rife in their county.”
On Monday Leicester Animal Rights posted on its Facebook page: “On Friday one of our campaigners attended Leicestershire Police’s ethics committee meeting and noted that, amongst other things, Pc Sharon Roscoe had just stood down from her voluntary position as wildlife crime officer.
“We look forward to an improved approach to the issues from the police.”
Leicestershire Police is currently investigating alleged assaults on two League Against Cruel Sports employees at a Belvoir Hunt meeting earlier this month.