I joined Perth and Kinross Constabulary in 1966, serving first of all as a police officer in Dunblane. I was then transferred to Perth shortly before Perth and Kinross Constabulary was amalgamated with Dundee City Police and Angus Constabulary to form Tayside Police. In these early days I very much specialised in dealing with poaching cases, particularly the poaching of salmon and deer. Since that time I have served at Force Headquarters, Crieff and Kinross. Most of my service since 1980 was spent in CID and HQ Drug Squad, which covered the whole force area. I retired as a serving officer in 1997 with the rank of inspector, and also having had the role of force wildlife crime officer for the previous four years. After 6 hours retirement – possibly one of the shortest ‘retirements’ on record – I was re-employed as the force wildlife crime officer in a civilian capacity, an appointment probably helped by my knowledge of dealing with poaching, and a huge interest in natural history, farming, shooting, fishing and the countryside in general.
In 1999 I was presented with the WWF UK Wildlife Enforcer of the Year Award, and received the MBE for services to policing in 2001, followed by a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. I was presented with a Chief Constable’s Certificate of Merit in 2007 in recognition of my wildlife law enforcement work. Most recently I was presented with the WWF award Wildlife Crime Operation of the Year 2013, which was a joint police, SNH and SEPA investigation initiated when a large number of freshwater pearl mussels were killed during a mini hydro electric scheme construction.
As can be seen under ‘Books’ I am the author of five books on wildlife crime and one on wildlife. The first book, Wildlife Detective, was written to accompany the BBC 2 series Wildlife Detectives, a TV series following my work and that of several of my colleagues in other police forces in Scotland.
I retired in 2011, and shortly thereafter was employed as an intelligence officer with the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. I had to retire on ill health in January 2015 and now maintain an acre and a half of garden. I recently completed a year-long wildlife survey on a sporting estate in Highland Perthshire with an amazing biodiversity of birds and mammals. During the year I identified 89 species of birds including tree pipit, white-tailed eagle, redstart, goshawk, red kite and, something not seen on too many estates, at least eight nesting pairs of buzzards.
I live on the outskirts of the village of Methven in Perthshire with my wife, Jan, Molly the dog, 22 khaki Campbell ducks and 5 hens. I have three daughters, four grand-daughters and a grandson. My main hobbies now are gardening, writing, giving talks, watching wildlife in the garden and walking in the countryside.