When the Angling Trust went fishing with Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping recently it wasn’t so much about landing a fish as tightening the net on illegal poaching and related criminality.
Committed to reducing rural crime of all kinds, Mr Tipping’s trip to a fishing pool in South Muskham, near Newark, was all about discussing with local anglers what they can do to help the police protect fish and fisheries.
The Commissioner was keen to raise awareness of the value and importance of anglers passing information about criminal activity – including wildlife crime – to the police, agencies and partnerships such as the cross-border Operation Traverse.
“Anglers and members of the local communities who know the rivers and fishing spots well are ideally placed to keep us in the picture. By reporting incidents to the police they become a vital cog in the wheel that tackles offenders and prevents crime.”
Operation Traverse is a multi-partnership operation that includes a growing number of police forces, the Angling Trust and Environment Agency. It helps to raise awareness of fish theft, wider related criminality and organised crime as well as encouraging a coordinated response to poaching.
Kevin Pearson, the Angling Trust’s Midlands Regional Enforcement Manager, said: “We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police and the Environment Agency to tackle poaching, rod licence evasion and angling-related crime. Having the support of Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping is a significant move forward as it demonstrates to the angling and rural communities that their concerns are being taken seriously.
‘We must understand that policing is intelligence-led – meaning that it is essential for anglers to report all incidents to the Environment Agency and police. Only then will the true extent of our problems be quantified and offenders brought to book.
“It is vitally important that we all contribute to Operation Traverse by calling the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 for suspected rod licence offences, or the police on 101 to report criminal offences including fishing without permission and the theft of fish, or 999 if a crime is in progress. Ask for a call reference number and request feedback.”
Dilip Sarkar MBE, Angling Trust’s National Enforcement Manager, said: “Operation Traverse remains an extremely important initiative and we are delighted to welcome Nottinghamshire Police aboard as a formal partner. We have listened to the concerns of anglers in that force area, particularly in respect of the river Trent, and now need to work together to support the Environment Agency and police in protecting fish and fisheries.”
Nottinghamshire Police has its own angler liaison officer: Special Constable Haddon Smith, who joined Commissioner Tipping at South Muskham. Acting as point of contact with anglers and water bailiffs in the Sherwood area, he also goes on patrol with them.