MP for Bosworth, Dr Luke Evans, has visited Gopsall Fly Fishing Club with local police to raise awareness of illegal fishing and other types of rural crimes, after he was made aware of an increase in the level of illegal activity there. The Club are based on the River Sence, near Shackerstone, and Dr Luke was pleased to be able to visit some of the members on the 16 August, along with PC Charles Allen from Leicestershire & Rutland Rural Policing Team.
During the visit, club members discussed some of the difficulties they have experienced over previous years with illegal fishing, which is particularly common during the summer months, and other types of rural crimes such as fly tipping and theft. There was then the opportunity to walk along the River Sence to see how the club work to positively manage the environment and increase biodiversity.
Fishing has become increasingly popular since the beginning of the pandemic, with the Environment Agency selling 1,019,723 individual freshwater rod licences to adults living in England in the last year, compared to 882,989 in the previous year 2019/20, an increase of 16%. With fishing so popular in rural areas particularly, Dr Luke was delighted to take the opportunity to join some of the members of the club.
PC Charles Allen was able to offer helpful advice when they notice people fishing illegally, or other rural offences, stressing the importance of making sure crimes are reported to 101 (or 999 in an emergency), so that they can be recorded and responded to. Ensuring these kinds of rural crimes are recorded is important for helping to dictate which areas resources should be directed to. Dr Luke has raised rural crime with Rupert Matthews, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to help tackle all types of rural crime, from machine theft to property damage. Given the makeup of the area, Dr Luke has remained focused on supporting and championing rural and environmental affairs.
When reporting illegal fishing or other environmental crime, the Environment Agency have released advice which asks people to report the offence with the date and time, the precise location of the incident, how many people are involved, what exactly the perpetrators are doing, how they have got there and whether there are any other witnesses. As well as reporting offences via 101, the Police’s non-emergency number, they can also be reported via the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
Dr Luke said: “It's a real shame to hear about the difficulties Gopsall Fly Fishing Club are experiencing with illegal fishing over the last few years. Although we are blessed with lots of beautiful countryside here in Leicestershire, it does unfortunately mean that we all need to remain vigilant of rural crime.
I was pleased to hear last year that local police have launched a rural crime team to help battle the likes of illegal fishing, hare coursing and machinery theft. I would encourage those living in rural areas to join Rural Watch which is run by Leicestershire Police, to encourage local residents to help prevent rural crime by sharing information. It was great PC Allen was able to join us, and my thanks to the Club for inviting me down, and I look forward to taking them up on their offer of joining them to try my hand at fishing!”
You can find out more information about Gopsall Fly Fishing Club here: www.gopsallflyfishingclub.com
You can also find out more information on rural crime and joining Rural Watch here: www.leics.police.uk