British Police Given Guidelines for Handling Pagan Rituals

Paganism was recently declared an official religion in England.

July 18, 2011— -- Sgt. Simon Wood of New Forest, England, is a mild-mannered, respected police officer, a military veteran who has been on the force for 22 years. He is also a pagan druid.

Paganism, a centuries-old faith, has just been officially established as a religion in England. Dating back to pre-Christian times, followers worship the land, animals, spirits and ancient gods and it's been growing in popularity in recent years.

Its estimated that around 250,000 Brits now claim to be Pagans.

So many followers, in fact, that British police have issued guidelines for officers who might happen to stumble upon a pagan ritual in the works. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the advice is contained in a 300-page "diversity handbook" which gives officers the dos and don'ts of how to approach followers of several religions.

Wood explained that particular ritual is an initiation rite into the faith.

"[Participants] are going through a death and into a rebirth," he said.

Wood said he was "reborn" 11 years ago. His wife used to be involved as well before the couple had children.

"There's more and more people getting more involved," Wood said. "I think it's because it gives them something back that modern day society doesn't give you. We're getting more and more far removed from nature."

Watch Nick Watt's full report, including when he attends a pagan ritual, tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT