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Boost for campaign to tackle fisheries crime as Suffolk Constabulary join Operation TRAVERSE


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Representatives from the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Suffolk Constabulary at the launch of Operation TRAVERSE in Suffolk

Suffolk Constabulary has become the latest police force to sign up to Operation TRAVERSE - the multi-agency initiative launched in 2014 to tackle fish theft and illegal fishing in the East of England.

The commitment creates an important link with surrounding forces and provides a wider roll-out of the operation in the East and South East of England.

Inspector Nick Stonehouse, of Suffolk Constabulary Wildlife and Rural Crime Team, said: “Suffolk Constabulary will ensure that all of our call takers are properly briefed and aware of fisheries-related criminality and will work closely with the Angling Trust voluntary bailiffs and Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers to identify and deal with any offences revealed in a robust and consistent manner. I actively encourage true anglers to provide intelligence on illegal activity as this information will lead the operation. They are often our eyes and ears by the water’s edge and vital to the success of the initiative.”

Suffolk Constabulary formally joined Operation TRAVERSE following a training day for Wildlife Crime Officers at Stowmarket Police Station, attended by the Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officers and the Angling Trust Voluntary Bailiff Service, with presentations from both the Angling Trust and Environment Agency.

Topics included issues with migrant anglers not understanding UK fisheries law and the steps being taken to educate on catch & release, methods of illegal fishing, how to spot incidents, how to effectively deliver the operation through joint patrols with other member organisations, how this offending often fits within a much wider framework of criminality and the role of the Voluntary Bailiff Service.

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Insp. Nick Stonehouse (left) and Paul Thomas of the Angling Trust

Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE said: “In spite of its huge array of commitments and priorities, this shows the police service is willing to address anglers’ issues and the wider criminality involved. We look forward very much to working closely with Suffolk Constabulary and our existing and future partners.”

Environment Agency Enforcement Team Leader Lesley Robertson said: “We are pleased to welcome Suffolk Constabulary as a partner to Operation TRAVERSE. This will build on existing work we carry out with the force across the beautiful Suffolk countryside to tackle illegal fishing.

“Anyone that suspects illegal fishing is taking place should report the details to the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60, or Suffolk Constabulary on 101 quoting Operation TRAVERSE.”

Angling Trust’s East of England Regional Enforcement Manager Paul Thomas said: “Tackling fish theft and illegal fishing is vital if we are to protect fisheries and clamp down on rod licence cheats. Suffolk is the final piece of the jigsaw in the East of England and join forces in Humberside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Essex, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire as valued partners in Operation TRAVERSE.”

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