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The river's high! Bailiffs find bags of cannabis plants dumped in the River Nene

12.03.19

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Roy Bridson (right) with fellow club bailiff, police and the bags of dumped cannabis plants they found in the River Nene

Volunteer bailiff Roy Bridson suspected something fishy was going on when he was alerted by a Whittlesey Angling Club partner to black bin bags dumped in the River Nene in Cambridgeshire. He and his fellow bailiff hauled one of the bags to the riverbank – and found it filled with cannabis plants.

Roy, a member of the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service, alerted the police and together they recovered 30 rubbish and carrier bags from the river near Whittlesey, mostly containing cannabis plants, roots, cuttings and buds ready to be sold.

Meanwhile, whilst out on patrol recently in Essex, VBS Area Coordinator Iain Fraser found a dumped safe – minus its contents which had been removed – that had been forcibly opened using oxy acetylene.

Both incidents are further examples of how criminals are using rural environments to further their crimes and proof, if needed, that the VBS is benefitting the whole of society and not just the angling community.

Paul Thomas, Angling Trust’s Regional Enforcement Manager for the East of England, said: “Our volunteer bailiffs are the eyes and ears at the waterside and are trained to report suspicious activity to the police and Environment Agency to a high evidential standard. These recent finds prove how worthwhile their roles have become – they are a credit to angling and society in general.”

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The Voluntary Bailiff Service is part of the Angling Trust’s Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, run in partnership with the Environment Agency and funded by fishing licence income.

Volunteer bailiffs are always on the lookout for signs of illegal fishing, poaching, set lines and nets but every so often they come across more sinister activity. A few years ago, bailiffs on patrol near Reading found a cache of deadly firearms, including a magnum handgun and an Uzi submachine gun.

On another occasion, an angler spotted a group of poachers and reported the registration number of a suspicious vehicle to the Angling Trust enforcement team. The information was immediately passed on to the police – and the vehicle was traced to a wanted killer on the run from mainland Europe who was tracked down and arrested.

Anyone witnessing an illegal fishing incident in progress can report it directly to the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Information on illegal fishing and environmental crime can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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