How your license cash pays for a prison lake

Hordes of anglers have reacted furiously after it emerged the Environment Agency is shelling out £20,000 of anglers’ money to stock a lake for convicted criminals.

The Wetherby Specialist Support Jail in Yorkshire, which houses up to 48 young offenders at a time, will be using your rod licence money to stock a variety of species into a newly-dug fishery in the jail’s grounds so that the prisoners can
go fishing.

Inmates at the new establishment will also be getting some free fishing gear from tackle giant Shakespeare and, unlike the rest of us, they won’t need a rod licence either.

The controversial scheme has been hit by a storm of criticism from anglers and leading figures alike.

“I regularly get asked to help young offenders and I never do. I only help people who live within the law.

“I don’t like the thought of criminals enjoying themselves while they are inside.
They don’t deserve this sort of help and pampering,” said AT’s Des Taylor.

And AT readers have joined Des in expressing their disgust.

“While initiatives like this are being paid for, nothing is being done to stop the poaching of fish stocks,” claimed Raymond John, from Bath.

“Law-abiding citizens have to pay for their licences and tackle while criminals are getting it free. It’s outrageous!” said Tony Thomas from Bath, in Avon.

“Now we know why the pensioners’ and disabled anglers’ rod licence went up by almost 40 per cent. We wouldn’t want prisoners to get bored when there was nothing on TV,” said one reader.

But other elements of the sport believe the EA is spending its finances wisely.
National Federation of Anglers chief executive Paul Baggaley claimed: “If the investment contributes to the reform of these offenders it is money well spent.”
Despite the widespread criticism of the project, the EA fisheries department believes it will benefit society.

“Angling has an important and beneficial role in improving everyone’s quality of life, and this is certainly cheaper for the taxpayer than dealing with the consequences once young people get into the criminal justice system,” said fisheries team leader John Shannon.

A spokesman for the prison service also defended the scheme, saying: “The aim of the unit is to teach social and coping skills to reduce the incidence of re-offending and therefore protect the public.”