The Environment Agency joined forces with police in a major operation to tackle cross border criminals.
North East Environment Agency officers supported police from Durham, North Yorkshire and Northumbria forces on patrols to clampdown on criminals in rural areas.
Operation Checkpoint – which also involved Cumbria, Cleveland and Lancashire police forces – took place on Tuesday night, May 17.
Checkpoint is the largest rural policing operation of its kind in the country, and aims to gather intelligence about travelling criminals, disrupt their use of the road network and bring anyone found breaking the law to justice.
Fisheries enforcement patrols
Environment Agency officers supported the operation by carrying out fisheries enforcement patrols to gather intelligence and raise crime awareness.
During the operation police used Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology to target vehicles suspected of being linked to crime, as well as checking vehicles in suspicious circumstances and focusing on key locations.
In total, more than 10 vehicles were seized for offences including no insurance, failing to stop for police and no tax.
Partners join forces
Environment Agency Enforcement Team Leader for the North East, Dave Edwardson, said:
We work closely with the police every day to target illegal fishing and working together means we can make a co-ordinated effort in gathering information and taking enforcement action.
Illegal fishing damages fish stocks and the environment and is unfair on anglers who abide by the law and buy their rod licences – the income from which is used to fund improvements to fisheries and habitats.
Our role in Operation Checkpoint was to support police in their patrols, specifically encouraging anglers and the wider angling community to report suspicious activity.
This in turn increases the amount of information and intelligence we receive about those fishing illegally or suspected of being involved in other crimes in our rural communities.
Anyone with information about illegal fishing is asked to contact the Environment Agency’s 24-hour Incident Hotline on 0800 807060, or the police on 101. In an emergency or to report a crime ongoing always dial 999.