A dedicated group of bailiffs who have successfully reduced the crime rates on their waters by a staggering 90 per cent have condemned the efforts of anglers in the war against poachers.
Members targeting Shropshire Angling Federation fisheries have seen a huge decline in fish thefts after the amalgamation of clubs created a crack team of bailiffs to help eradicate the theft problems plaguing their venues.
The group have forged crucial links with the Environment Agency and local police, and have collected reams of photographic evidence to help drastically reduce the number of offences being committed.
Federation chairman and chief bailiff John Roberts alone has helped apprehend 50 poachers over the past two years and he believes anglers only have themselves to blame for the problems dogging the sport.
“Club members need to ask themselves how they can help the EA and stop moaning about how they have been failed by the Agency. If clubs have criminals on their waters then they are evidently not policing their venues effectively,” claimed John.
“Anglers and bailiffs need to deal with every situation they see ¬ they can’t turn a blind eye. Photos need to be taken and anglers have to be willing to go to court and give evidence. If you create a watertight case, then the EA will support you and prosecute,” he said.
Fishermen up and down the country have long been venting their anger and frustration at the apparent lack of support from the police, but John insists fishermen are unfairly making police the scapegoats.
“A bailiff was once pushed about by nine anglers and I was asked to assist. I called the police while en route, a risk assessment was taken and, by the time I had arrived, I was accompanied by three police cars and one dog handler,” he added.
Officials at East Anglian club King’s Lynn AA have also been fighting a running battle to save their waters from Eastern European poachers, and club secretary Ashley Brown agrees that working with the authorities is vital.
“The people who are letting the sport down are anglers. They moan fish are being stolen, but never report what they witness to the EA,” he said.
EA officials have now invited other clubs to work closely with them to help convict more criminals.
“We need anglers to provide us with solid information that we can use in court. We’re only too happy to work with angling clubs to help improve their knowledge of the law and the standard of evidence their members need to provide,” an EA spokesperson said.