Patrols aim to send Otley poachers packing

POLICE are teaming up with a fishing club to target poachers and hooligans on a Yorkshire river.

On two recent occasions, members of Otley Angling Club have found men using rods to steal fish from the stretch of River Wharfe opposite Garnett's paper mill and at Gallows Hill.

The club controls fishing on the river from above Otley Bridge north bank to Caley Lodge on Pool Road.

Fishing is only permitted on this stretch if you are a club member and hold an Environment Agency rod licence.

People fishing without a licence can be fined up to 2,500.

Club members also fear a repeat of attacks by youths who last year threw stones and harassed them as they fished.

Police officers based at Otley will be paying extra attention to fishing spots along the Wharfe over the coming weeks and months to target both problems.

Officers will be watching for people fishing illegally and will support the club and the Environment Agency to take action against the poachers as well as dealing firmly with incidents of antisocial behaviour.

PC Oliver Snodgrass said: "As a neighbourhood policing team we are committed to helping to address the issues that affect local people.

"The anglers should be able to fish in peace without being subjected to antisocial behaviour and without other people illegally depleting their stocks.

"It is theft, pure and simple, and we will be working with the club and the Environment Agency to see that anyone caught faces the appropriate action."

Club secretary Tim Hendry said: "We are really pleased that the police have taken our concerns seriously and responded to them. We hope the fact that officers will be paying more attention to the area will have a deterrent effect."

Environment Agency fisheries technical officer Peter Mischenko said: "We urge everyone, not just anglers, to report any illegal fishing that they see using our incident hotline number 0800 807060. We investigate all reports that we receive, and take the necessary action to ensure that people who are breaking the rules get prosecuted."