THE Angling Trust have revealed they are making thousands of patrols with their voluntary bailiffs scheme – to help out the Environment Agency who have been hit with major cutbacks.

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As we reported last week, Angler’s Mail has found out the Environment Agency their bailiffs made just 62,000 licence checks for the 2015-16 season, a sharp decline of 8,000 from 2013-14.

And for the same period, there were 1,900 prosecutions down by 900 two years before.

A hugely popular Angler’s Mail survey saw hundreds of anglers report that they either never or hardly ever had their rod licence checked.

Governing body The Trust have revealed they are now going into phase two of their Voluntary Bailiffs Service. They will be training their people up to be given the full powers of official bailiffs, making them akin to Police special constables.

Started in 2012 as a pilot in one area and managed, the VBS has since been rolled out to cover the whole country, and 329 bailiffs are now in operation supporting vital EA work.

“Most exciting development in angling history”

Trust national enforcement service manager Dilip Sakar explained: “This is the most exciting development in angling history and represents the way forward in tackling licence evasion.

“The National Intelligence Model underpins all policing today – this means that our limited resources can be deployed to hotspot locations at peak times, following analysis of information received from the public.

“We don’t actually check licences but report suspicious activity to the EA and occasionally the police.

“Since we became fully operational from last spring we have undertaken 2,892 patrols taking 4,403 hours, and reported 51 incidents to the EA and 12 to the police.

“We are also rolling out phase two of the programme in which a number of the existing VBs receive further training so they can be given the full powers of official bailiffs, making them akin to special constables.

“We are aiming to increase our total of bailiffs to 500 by this spring, bringing us level with countries like Holland, but a long way behind Poland which has 5,000.”

“We take illegal fishing very seriously”

Adrian Saunders, senior advisor for incidents and ‎compliance at the Environment Agency, said: “We take illegal fishing very seriously. We are constantly cracking down on evasion to make sure that all anglers have a valid rod licence.

“Our approach is targeted and intelligence-led which means we concentrate on the criminal hotspots.

“Just because a law abiding angler hasn’t had their licence checked it doesn’t mean we’re not out there,” he added.

A number of induction training programmes for new VBs are being held early this year, so anyone interested in joining the service should contact: Karen.sarkar@anglingtrust.net

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