A POLICE officer was arrested for allegedly interfering with a badger sett at the same time his force was targeting the cruel sport of badger baiting.

The man has since quit the force and is still being investigated by his former colleagues.

In the past two years, Northumbria Police - working with the RSPCA - has carried out a series of operations to smash badger baiting rings operating in the region.

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Chief Supt Chris Machell, head of the force's Professional Standards department, said: "A police officer based in Newcastle area command was arrested in February on suspicion of interference with a badger sett.

"He was released on police bail pending further enquiries. The officer was suspended but subsequently tendered his resignation. This was accepted. The investigation continues.

"Northumbria Police will always robustly investigate any allegation of wrongdoing by employees."

The officer - who comes from the Westerhope area of Newcastle - has not been named.

He was arrested after a badger sett in Hepscott, Northumberland, was found to have been disturbed.

Sophie Corless, RSPCA spokeswoman, said: "The RSPCA is investigating alleged offences under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006."