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Police Tighten the Net on Animal Abusers

15th August, 2003

by Graham Phoenix
Police experts are now surfing the internet in their latest bid to round up rings of animal abusers staging illegal cock-fighting, dog-fighting and badger-baiting meets.

Just as they have already succeeded in tracking down paedophiles downloading child pornography from the internet, they are now combing it for secret or coded messages being passed between people still addicted to the outlawed sports. The new moves were revealed yesterday by Faye Burton, the local wildlife expert and badger preservationist who is chairman of the Staffordshire rural policing liaison committee.

"Suspicious websites are being checked out very carefully ... I am hoping that internet searches will help to throw up new information about the activities of the bloodthirsty brutes who ... abuse and misuse of innocent creatures," she said.

Ms Burton said such practices were still being pursued in some rural areas of Uttoxeter and other parts of the county and there was evidence that armed gangs of criminals from different parts of the country were involved in their organisation, in addition to local residents who enjoyed the same obscene satisfaction of betting on the results of wild and tame animals being pitted against each other.

Ms Burton, who has often helped police to locate illegal rural activities, including badger-digging, baiting and the staging of fights involving dogs and cocks, said she was still being well supported by an ever-widening network of sympathetic informers in Staffordshire.

...

Ms Burton won police backing in May for the launch of a new Wildlife Crimewatch project under which members of the public are urged to ring Crimestoppers to report any suspicions of offences being committed against wildlife or livestock, including the poaching of game birds and deer and even thefts from rural fish farms.

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