Due to a deficiency in both understanding and training, the police service has only recently understood that fishing without permission and the theft of fish are criminal offences under the Theft Act 1968 – for which the police have a clear responsibility. This was accepted in fact, by Mr Simon Prince, Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys and National Policing Lead on Rural & Wildlife Crime in July 2014; please see:
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These crimes are not a specialist wildlife crime matter but offences with which police communications room and response staff must be aware of, to ensure that complaints from anglers are appropriately dealt with. Under the wider banner of ‘Project Poacher’, the Angling Trust initiated Operation TRAVERSE in November 2014, as the first multi-agency operation targeting illegal fishing and fish theft, led by Lincolnshire Police and in partnership with Cambridgeshire Police, the Environment Agency, Cefas and the Polish PSR government fisheries enforcement agency. Humberside, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk and Bedfordshire Police have all since signed up to support TRAVERSE in East Anglia, with Northumberland, Durham, North Yorkshire and Cleveland in the North East – with South & West Yorkshire poised to join at the time of writing. More forces are being recruited by our Regional Enforcement Managers in what is an ongoing process.
Historically, these offences have been wrongly considered civil matters by the police, which they are not. Changing culture and attitudes within the police service is a difficult and lengthy process – but the link between poaching and Organised Crime is clear. Initiatives like TRAVERSE are high profile and ongoing, and will get the message home.
Anglers in the aforementioned force areas should report incidents and information to their local force and/or the Environment Agency (0800 80 70 60), quoting Operation TRAVERSE. Please see the Guide to Police Reporting on the Angling Trust Website http://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=1038
Should the response or service fall short, please advise your Regional Enforcement Manager