Angling Trust hosts inaugural Area Coordinators' Conference with support from police and EA

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The Angling Trust | NEWS

The Angling Trust has hosted the inaugural Voluntary Bailiff Service Area Coordinators’ Conference, supported by Gloucestershire and West Mercia Police, and the Environment Agency.

Thirty Area Coordinators from across the country attended the event held in Worcester on Saturday, 9 November, which covered a range of topics including strategy, intelligence, volunteering resources, Building Bridges Project, social media and organising joint patrols. There was also a presentation on new policing operational technology, including drones and body-worn cameras.

The Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) at Phase 1, in which 500 volunteers are ‘eyes and ears’ and trained to report incidents and information to a high evidential standard, is distributed throughout all six English regions. The VBS then sub-divides those regions into areas, overseen by an Area Coordinator, who liaises with Volunteer Bailiffs and the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service Regional Enforcement Manager.

Area Coordinators are volunteers and help maintain regular communication with Volunteer Bailiffs, cascading information and coordinating things like joint patrols with the Environment Agency and Police, and VBS contributions to inductions, training and distributing information to the angling community.

National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE said:

“Our Area Coordinators are essential to the efficient and effective delivery of the VBS. Last year we began providing professional training, so this important Conference builds upon that, helping create a sense of community nationally amongst our ACs, providing an opportunity for networking, sharing best practice and learning more about the strategy and ongoing work behind the scenes.

“Rome was not built overnight, and things take time – we are totally committed to the VBS being the best we can be and providing the best and most productive volunteering experience possible. This is further evidence of our commitment to those endeavours. Further, ongoing, training will be provided to all our volunteers as we move forward.

“The fantastic thing about the VBS is that the contribution being made benefits the entire community and shows anglers and angling in the best possible light. This can only be good for angling as a whole – and Area Coordinators are key to this.”

PC Cath McDay and Mel Campbell represented Gloucestershire Police, presenting on new policing operational technology, including drones and body-worn cameras.

PC Cath McDay said:

“Drones are relatively new to Gloucestershire Police. However, we look forward to using them more often in the combatting of rural crime and it’s encouraging to see the interest from the angling community. I look forward to future patrols with the VBS and EA along the riverbanks and lakes. It was interesting to see the good work being done by the VBS across the country and what’s to come.”

PC Sarah Smith of West Mercia Police said:

“I found the day very informative and was impressed at the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Angling Trust staff, members and volunteers in tackling fisheries and related crime.”

Warren Andrew, Area Coordinator based in the North West region, said:

“It was fantastic to meet everyone, the REMs and other ACs. Great evening and a cracking conference confirming the immense value of the VBS. I am privileged to be part of the ongoing positive change that the VBS continues to bring to angling throughout the country.”

Angling Trust National Volunteers Manager Karen Sarkar said:

“The Conference was an invaluable opportunity for our volunteer Area Coordinators to discuss challenges and share best practice face-to-face, whilst receiving updates and further training from the partnership, especially regarding the help and resources the Angling Trust and FESS can provide. It was both a totally positive and most memorable day.”

The Voluntary Bailiff Service is part of the Fisheries Enforcement Support Service which is funded by English freshwater fishing licence money through the National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Environment Agency.