Performing day-to-day bailiff activities would free up official officers for more detailed work.
EA and Angling Trust joint venture to boost bailiff levels due to start early next year.
A new scheme that will see volunteer bailiffs used to combat fish theft is set to be launched next year, Pole Fishing can reveal.
Due to be piloted in the South East of the country next spring, the initiative is a joint project between the Environment Agency and the sport’s governing body, the Angling Trust.
Using volunteers to run a ‘neighbourhood watch’ style campaign against illegal anglers, officials hope to free up the time and resources of official EA bailiffs to tackle more serious issues facing the sport.
The scheme will run in three phases, with volunteers starting out as intelligence gatherers for the EA before moving on to having powers to check licenses and enforce bye-laws in phase two, with phase three seeing the volunteers receive the training to use the same full enforcement powers as an official bailiff.
“The scheme will eventually be very similar to that of Special Constables used in the police force,” said the EA’s Fisheries Enforcement Campaigns Manager Adrian Sanders. “There isn’t the budget to have as many bailiffs as we would like and volunteers will help with this, as well as freeing up official officers’ time from the day-to-day activities to concentrate on higher-level, more detailed investigative work. An example ofhow it will work is a recent case where a local club gathered intelligence on a poacher taking fish illegally from a river. This information was then given to EA officers who did the more detailed and specialist work of building a case against the poacher to get a conviction.
“If the pilot scheme is a success then this could be rolled out across the country. It’s a great chance for anglers to help with the issues facing the sport in a positive way that will really help the EA when it comes to fighting crimes such as poaching, Adrian added”
Seven Point Plan
The volunteer bailiff scheme is part of a wider seven-point plan proposed by the Angling Trust, which includes helping to educate foreign anglers, the police and government bodies as to the problems poaching causes for angling. The Trust has developed the plan to work in the following areas:
Building Bridges Communicating with foreign anglers and educating them to the UK’s angling rules and culture
Crimestoppers Providing a number for anglers, fisheries and clubs to be able to report poaching crimes
Legal Advice Explaining the legal position of anglers, clubs, fisheries and riparian owners when it comes to poaching – available for Trust members only
Advice to Police Collaborating with a special police task force to raise official awareness of the impact of poaching crimes
Volunteer Bailiff Scheme Reinforcement of official EA bailiffs with volunteers sourced through the Trust
Poacher Watch Website A website for individuals to reports incidences of poaching to develop a nation-wide map of the problem. Similar to the highly successful Cormorant Watch website
Political Pressure One of the most important area of focus from the Trust, this will see the issues of poaching raised with government bodies and those in power
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: "Poaching is damaging to wild fisheries, to rural and urban businesses, to the rural economy and to the enjoyment of the millions of people who fish legally and pay their rod licence each year. Many poachers are involved with organised crime. We will be raising this issue with the Environment Minister Richard Benyon when we meet with him in October and at the England and Wales Fisheries Group."