Press release

Assault conviction for illegal angler

A Mexborough man who lashed out after being caught fishing illegally in Lincolnshire has been fined and added to Police National Computer.

Fisheries enforcement officer checking licences
Fisheries enforcement officer checking licences

Mr Steve Beckett, 30, of Lorna Road, Mexborough threatened and assaulted the Environment Agency enforcement officer who asked to see his fishing licence. He also refused to give his address.

Enforcement officers are considered in law to be the same as police constables. Assaulting and obstructing one – in addition to his fishing violations – has left Mr Beckett with ‘recordable offences’ on the police database, as well as penalties totalling £410.

Mr Beckett was initially approached on 2 October 2016, as part of routine checks on fishing licences. He had been spotted using three rods at Caistor Fisheries in Lincolnshire.

A search of the Environment Agency’s database revealed Mr Beckett had no valid fishing licence, despite him insisting that he did. His refusal to give his address hampered further checks.

He became aggressive when challenged, physically pushing the enforcement officer away – and the police were called.

Strict penalties

Mr Beckett’s case was heard at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 5 June. He pleaded guilty to fishing without a valid licence, assaulting and obstructing a constable, using threatening behaviour, and failing to give his address to an authorised officer.

He was ordered to pay penalties totalling £410. At the time of the offence, the licence he required would have cost just £54. Recent changes mean that it would now cost £45, or £30 for concessions.

Other types of licence are available, including one-day for £6, eight-day for £12, and a free one for those aged 12 to 16.

Joanne Kay, Environment Agency fisheries team leader, said:

Not only was Mr Beckett fishing illegally, he also assaulted a law enforcement officer who was doing his duty to protect the sport, legitimate anglers and the environment.

It makes no sense to have the embarrassment of a court visit, a criminal conviction and a bill for potentially thousands of pounds when an annual licence is such value for money and so easy to buy.

Protecting angling

The money from licence sales supports fish, fisheries and fishing, and protects the future of the sport. A small number of anglers refuse to buy one, cheating the sport and their fellow anglers.

For the minority who flout the rules, the most common offence is fishing without a valid licence, which could land them with a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record.

Last year in England, the Environment Agency checked more than 62,000 rod licences and prosecuted more than 1,900 anglers for rod and line offences, resulting in fines and costs in excess of £500,000.

Buy a fishing licence

Any angler aged 12 or over, fishing on a river, canal or still water needs a licence. You can buy a fishing licence online via gov.uk, by phoning 0344 800 5386, or from a local Post Office.

Report illegal fishing

To help crack down on unlicensed fishing, the Environment Agency urges people to report illegal activity by calling its incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Published 20 June 2017