Police Chief pledges to act on fish theft
The Angling Trust has won support from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure that all Chief Officers in England and Wales will receive training about poaching and fish theft, and pass this on to their operational staff. The National Policing Lead for Wildlife & Rural Crime, Simon Prince (Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys), one of the most senior police officers in the country, has given his backing to the initiative which will ensure that the police respond properly to reports of poaching and fish theft.
To date, anglers have been frustrated when reporting criminal offences connected with poaching and fish theft to the police due to confusion amongst call-handlers and operational police officers who have not been aware of their duties and responsibilities in this area.
Retired police officer and Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE has been working to address this issue with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and individual forces over the past two years.
ACPO comprises Chief Officers - the nation's 'Top Cops' - and in response to the evidence presented to him by Dilip Sarkar, the National Policing Lead for Wildlife & Rural Crime, Mr Simon Prince, Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys, said:
'As fish poaching can happen at any time and anywhere, I agree that there needs to be a greater awareness within the police service of the legislation that can be used to combat the problem. I have therefore caused a briefing note to be created and distributed to all Chief Officers in England & Wales, to be cascaded down to call-taking staff and operational police officers. That, together with the work the Angling Trust has been carrying out with our network of Wildlife Crime Officers, will hopefully achieve the outcome that we all desire'.
Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE said: 'This is a massive step forward, which will bring an end to what, for anglers, has been an unacceptable situation. We understand that the problem was caused by an omission in training and it is great that this will finally be addressed. We are, however, entirely supportive of the problems faced by the police today, and share ACPO's desire to work in partnership. We are extremely grateful to Mr Prince in particular, and to the National Wildlife Crime Unit, for essential and ongoing understanding and support - which ultimately means poachers will increasingly find themselves with criminal records and being prosecuted'.
Dale Whittaker, Secretary of Nottinghamshire Piscatorial Society, said: 'We have recently reported a number of incidents to the local police but officers have clearly been confused and their response sometimes inappropriate. This has then taken time for the Angling Trust to resolve with Nottingham Police – so this is great news, because at last it means that police staff will be properly informed and can get things right from the start. This is a terrific step forward and we commend all involved'.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said: 'Many fishery owners and angling clubs have, quite rightly, been pressing us to take this issue to the highest level. I am very grateful to ACPO and to Chief Constable Prince for their support in bringing poachers to book for the damage that they do to fish stocks, to rural businesses and to the enjoyment of millions of anglers. We hope that more prosecutions will send a clear message to the poachers and fish rustlers that they cannot get away with criminal activity any longer.'
Anglers can find all they need to know about reporting offences to the police HERE.