Voluntary bailiff scheme rolls out in the Midlands

A new service to recruit voluntary bailiffs which was successfully piloted in the South East by the Angling Trust and Environment Agency has been rolled out in the Midlands.

The new Midlands Voluntary Bailiff Service went live at the end of February and covers Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire when a total of 33 successful applicants attended an inaugural mandatory induction day held near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

The event was jointly hosted by Angling Trust Midlands Regional Enforcement Manager Kevin Pearson, a retired West Midlands Police Inspector, and Environment Agency VBS Project Manager Adrian Brightley.

Kevin Pearson said: "This was a fantastic day for angling in the Midlands with 33 volunteers joining Phase 1 of Voluntary Bailiff Service and offering their support to the Environment Agency and the Police in tackling poaching and all angling-related crime. I am very optimistic about the future and already have more volunteers ready to join at the next induction later in the year."

The event was attended by the Environment Agency and PC Paul Lambon, Wildlife Crime Officer with West Mercia Constabulary, and supported by the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

PC Lambon, a key-player in Operation Leviathan, a high profile multi-agency, multi-force, operation focussing on illegal fishing and fish theft, said: "From a policing perspective I am extremely pleased the Voluntary Bailiff Service is now up and running in our area. It's early days and we shouldn't expect to see huge changes overnight, but by working together we will make a difference. We are stronger together."

Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officer Chris Ponsford contributed to training at the induction and said: "The Environment Agency welcomes the opportunity to work with enthusiastic volunteers to help us in our continuing crackdown on illegal fishing and those that cheat angling by not buying a licence.

"We take illegal fishing very seriously. Anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine. The Volunteer Bailiff Service is an additional resource we can call on in the fight against evasion and illegal fishing." Follow this link for the full story.

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