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Become a volunteer fisheries bailiff

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Fisheries and biodiversity

This blog originally appeared in the Angler's Mail


I’m a fisheries officer based in the North West, within the Environment Agency’s Greater Manchester Merseyside and Cheshire fisheries team. I’m currently working with the Angling Trust alongside their local enforcement manager to set up the Voluntary Bailiff Service in the North West. Many of you will have already heard about the scheme that’s been piloted in southeast England over the last few years. The Angling Trust is increasingly working with us to help us clampdown on illegal fishing. Thanks to this partnership, the Voluntary Bailiff Service is now being rolled out, to protect coarse and trout fisheries across England. Earlier in the year we had a training session near Rochdale for more than 20 volunteers in the North West.


Angling Trust bailiffs are unpaid and rigorously vetted before they are selected. Successful candidates receive an intensive training course on what is expected of them and this is where I come in.

In recent months, I have helped train our local volunteer bailiffs. We train them on fisheries law, signs of illegal fishing and what to look out for on the bank and how to record information in a way that could be used as evidence.
There are several phases to the Voluntary Bailiff Service. To begin with, Angling Trust volunteer bailiffs are simply ‘eyes and ears’ on the bank, they are not expected to challenge anyone. Their sole purpose is to gather information on illegal fishing and make it available to us via a secure website. This information is then assessed and used by our Environment Agency bailiffs, giving us the ‘intelligence’ to target our enforcement efforts towards places where suspicious activity has been seen. This forms the basis of a strategy which is known as ‘intelligence-led’ enforcement.

This is helping to catch, disrupt and deter those wanting to fish and take fish illegally, as some of the results in my catchment area have already shown. With around 130 volunteer bailiffs operating across England, this really will extend our enforcement reach.

Subject to the outcome of a further pilot scheme in the south east, volunteers that have demonstrated a strong commitment to the scheme and have the necessary skills, can apply to progress to the second phase. If successful – and following more specialised training in conflict resolution and using legal powers – they will be issued with a warrant and the equipment to check rod licences. In the southeast pilot, we have appointed 11 volunteer bailiffs, who will be working alongside our officers for a probationary period, and then independently in pairs, checking licences and other angling offences on our behalf.

One of the things I have found very rewarding about running the training courses is everyone’s enthusiasm. They are an extremely keen bunch, all very passionate about the angling and safeguarding the future of our waterways - and willing to back that up with their own time in order to make a real difference. The Voluntary Bailiff Service is being rolled out in other regions, so if any of this sounds appealing then contact the Angling Trust for more information here:


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  1. Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

    Would contact details for the Angling Trust be helpful?

  2. Comment by Giles Evans posted on

    The contact details, for each regional manager are at the foot of the page Andrew

  3. Comment by Stuart Pugh posted on

    Hi is the balliffing scheme going to be available in Wales.

  4. Comment by Bob Duck posted on

    Is this scheme going to come to Wales?

  5. Comment by Barrie James hemmings posted on

    I would love to become a volunteer but do thay do it in South Wales, please can you get back to me please.

  6. Comment by Neil Macleod posted on

    Is this available in the hull area I am a company director and most of my spare time is angling in surrounding areas and would love to help police them as a volunteer Just to give a little back for future Angler’s thanks

  7. Comment by mrs s skinner posted on

    I fish most weeks at a small fishery on a camp site often I have shouted at people not using landing nets and other things that would harm the fish we have some lovely fish and I cant stand by and see this so I was woundering about your voluntary bailiff course so I could look after the fish and tell people were they are going wrong I am very keen to do this as I no a lot of people fish with out a fishing permit and a rod licence if you could let me have some information on how to go about this it would be very helpful

  8. Comment by Roy Bridson AC Cambridgeshire and Bedford joint coordinator with Louis Goodman posted on

    I am a VBS Area coordinator Cambridgeshire and Bedford also a club Baillif for two clubs giving me 60 miles of water .it's so rewarding and has a positive effect on angling plus wildlife protection and the prevention of crime on the riverbank ie poaching .children swimming in the locks fly tipping ect the general public in my patrol areas respect the work I do and are eager to help giving me eyes and ears everywhere children benefit during the holidays knowing when they are fishing I will offer guidance and make sure they are safe .Litter has almost disappeared from the bank and wildlife is in abundance protected from previously being shot at by hooligans and thugs with air guns and catapults the river is now generally clear of shopping carts ect and not many boats crunch into unknown objects causing thrown props and hull damage very worthwhile I think and keeps me fit at 66

  9. Comment by Scott posted on

    Hi how do you become a volunteer bailiff on ten mile bank area any help

  10. Comment by Michael Burnett posted on

    I live in the Wyre area and have been made aware that some members of private clubs do not buy a rod license because they have never been asked to provide this, I am retired factory manager and a keen fisherman and would love to become a volunteer in the Blackpool area.

  11. Comment by James Ellis posted on

    Would love to become volunteer bailiff contact me at jcolinellis@ with the details

    • Replies to James Ellis>

      Comment by eileenroffe posted on

      Thank you for this information - i have forwarded it to the national incident team. Eileen

  12. Comment by stuart forrest posted on

    Hi this is stuart Forrest Is the voluntary bailiffing coming to the north Yorkshire area please

  13. Comment by Lee Hall posted on

    Good evening I would like to become an volunteer bailiff please can I have more details please thanks lee

  14. Comment by Michael Angeloni posted on

    I am looking into being a volunteer bailiff In Lincolnshire. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  15. Comment by Stephen Maddick posted on

    Im in swansea south wales i like become a voluntary baillf


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