On 1 April 2013, during Operation CLAMP DOWN, targeting illegal angling during the coarse close season, Voluntary Bailiffs of the Voluntary Bailiff Service's Angling Watch 3 were patrolling the River Thames at King's Meadow, Reading, with Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officer Mick Cox.
During this patrol, what appeared to be illegal set lines were found - but upon inspection two handguns and an automatic weapon were found attached and hidden in the river. Thames Valley Police have now investigated the matter and confirmed that the firearms concerned were deactivated but capable of being reactivated if in the wrong hands; it has proved impossible to connect this arms find with any recorded crime.
Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar, a retired police officer, said: "This discovery confirms that potentially serious criminal behaviour goes on in the rural area - and emphasises the crucial role of the Voluntary Bailiff Service as trained "eyes and ears". It also underlines the importance of the forthcoming new National Rural Crime Strategy which in the bigger picture, given the National Intelligence Model, fisheries enforcement sits. As the Voluntary Bailiff Service goes from strength to strength, we look forward to supporting both the Environment Agency and police in making our waterways safe places for all to enjoy."
Further information on the Voluntary Bailiff Service can be found on the Angling Trust website here.