THE founder of a rural crime reporting network for South Oxfordshire has been honoured.
Michael Colston, who launched Dogwatch in 2007, was awarded a chief constable’s commendation by Thames Valley Police.
The 81-year-old, who owns Ewelme Park Farm, near Nettlebed, came up with the idea following a spate of dog thefts from farms across the district.
The organisation now has 2,500 members across the Thames Valley and monitors all crime affecting farmers and landowners.
It successfully lobbied Thames Valley Police to record dog thefts in a category of their own rather than theft of property. The force has also assigned an officer to liaise with Dogwatch and share information about crimes.
Mr Colston stepped down as head of Dogwatch last year and was succeeded by Alex Dick, manager of the Culden Faw estate, near Fawley.
He was nominated for the accolade by Supt Andy Boyd, commander for the South Oxfordshire and Vale area.
Mr Colston, who attended the awards ceremony at Drayton Park Golf Club with his wife Judy and gamekeeper Ian Bedingfield, said: “I was really thrilled when they told me I was getting the award. Dogwatch is going from strength to strength under Alex’s leadership and I’m really pleased with how it’s developing.
I keep in close contact with him and give him a hand from time to time when I can. They certainly haven’t got rid of me yet.”