Bailiffs hit banks in big crackdown

Record numbers of highly-trained bailiffs will be patrolling UK waters this coming closed season for what will be the biggest ever crackdown on illegal angling.
Operation Clampdown 4 – a joint initiative involving the Environment Agency, the Angling Trust and dozens of police forces  – begins on March 15 and will see anti-poaching patrols on both running and stillwater fisheries.
The news comes in the same week that the Angling Trust revealed the completion of a nationwide rollout of its Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS).
The initiative has recruited dozens of new bailiffs from six different regions who will partner EA officers and police on patrols.
Previously the service was confined to the South East, but with the Trust’s recent enrolment of six ex-policemen as regional enforcement officers, five
other regions have been given the green light to enrol their own members and train them on the best ways to report poachers.
Angling Trust national enforcement manager Dilip Sarkar believes the volunteers will help to make a huge difference.
“VBS agents fulfil a crucial role, reporting information and evidence for the police and Environment Agency to act upon.
“This is because the entire system is intelligence-led – meaning that such reports, and those from anglers and the wider public, are absolutely essential,” he said.
They are trained to make reports to a high standard, and help raise awareness. Policing methods have changed, so to properly support the Environment Agency in particular, we have to respond to this.”
Sarah Chare, deputy director for fisheries at the Environment Agency, echoed those sentiments.
“I really welcome our partnership with the Angling Trust volunteers, which is funded entirely by anglers’ rod licence fees. This will make a huge contribution to our efforts to reduce illegal fishing and rod licence evasion.”
One of the latest rounds of recruitment was held last week in the Midlands, which saw 33 successful applicants from counties such as Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Herefordshire signing up.
These will help bolster anti-poaching efforts which are now at an all-time high, according to Dilip.
“Fishery enforcement has never been so strong and that’s not only down to the voluntary efforts of  the recruited anglers, but the fact that everyone is working together to achieve the same goal.”