Voluntary Bailiff Service will clamp down on angling crime!

Waters across the UK are going to be better protected than ever before, following the roll-out of the Voluntary Bailiff Service across the UK!

VBS has been set up by the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency as a way of tackling poaching, fish theft, and other angling related crime, which has become a growing problem in many parts of the country.

Following a successful pilot scheme in the south east of England, it is now being expanded, with the Midlands region being the third area to benefit. It provides a unique opportunity for anglers to get involved and put something back into the sport, by volunteering for the scheme, which is funded via rod licence sales and designed to work alongside the full-time EA fisheries enforcement staff.

In the Midlands – which includes Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire - 33 volunteers were selected to take part in the Phase 1 induction course, and will be helping the EA and Police, both of whom attended the event.

Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar, commented: “Protecting fish and fisheries is surely important to all anglers and it is great to see freshwater rod licence income being constructively spent in this way.
“Some find it hard to understand why Phase 1 Volunteer Bailiffs have no power, and this is because they fill a crucial role in reporting information and evidence to the police and EA to act upon. Our volunteers are trained to make reports to a high evidential standard and help raise awareness.”

Sarah Chare, EA deputy director for Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology, enthused: “I really welcome our partnership with the Angling Trust volunteers, which is funded entirely by anglers’ rod licence fees, and the support given by the Police. This will make a huge contribution to our efforts to reduce illegal fishing and rod licence evasion.”

Angling Trust Midlands Regional Enforcement Manager and retired police inspector Kevin Pearson was instrumental in organising the event, and enthused: “This was a fantastic day for angling in the Midlands with 33 volunteers joining VBS and offering their support to the EA and Police in tackling poaching and all angling-related crime.”

EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer, Chris Ponsford, who helped with the training, said: “The EA welcomes the opportunity to work with enthusiastic volunteers to help us in our continuing crackdown on illegal fishing, and those that cheat angling by not buying a licence. “We take illegal fishing very seriously and anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine, and VBS is an additional resource we can call on in this fight.”

Within the next couple of weeks inductions will have been held in all six regions across England, meaning that Operation Clamp Down 4 – the annual multi-agency initiative focussing on illegal fishing during the Close Season – will be a national operation for the first time!
For details of how to get involved in the Voluntary Bailiff Service, go to: www.anglingtrust.net