A CRACKDOWN has been launched to tackle illegal fishing, poaching, trespass and anti-social behaviour that has ‘blighted the lives of residents in Ince Blundell.’
On Friday, October 23, Operation Leviathan was launched, which will see Merseyside Police’s Rural and Wildlife Crime Team joined by the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to target fish theft and illegal fishing as well as criminality associated with it across Merseyside.
In recent months, the site at Ince Blundell Hall on Park Wall Road has suffered criminal damage, public order offences, drug misuse, anti-social behaviour and theft offences associated with people using the site to fish illegally – and a dog tragically died after eating litter left at the site.
The site is home to a care home for elderly residents, and Merseyside Police - along with partner agencies including the Environment Agency - are committed to preventing further offending.
During police visits to the site, 48 people have been prosecuted, with five currently going through the courts and 41 of those 48 found not to have fishing rod licenses.
The police have increased patrols in the area, and signs have been placed around the site warning trespassers and illegal fishers, and alongside partners will work to prevent similar issues across Merseyside.
Community policing Sergeant Nathaniel Leach said: “We have had numerous reports of anti-social activity on this land, and we are determined to put a stop to it. It is there to be enjoyed by the elderly people who live there, but they are all too often too fearful to venture into parts of it due to the presence of people who simply should not be there.
“Those trespassing on the site have often left litter/discarded fishing tackle strewn across it and a dog living there sadly died after eating some.
“In the challenging times we face, it is more important than ever that older people should be able to enjoy time outdoors safely, and the behaviour of a minority has sadly prevented residents from doing so.
“If you have been visiting the site without specific written permission, then you have been breaking the law and need to stop. Our officers will continue to patrol the area, we will prosecute and will seize all fishing equipment. If you are fishing at this location you are committing a theft offence as well as trespassing. There are no rights of way to the lake.”
Merseyside Wildlife and Rural Crime Sergeant Marc Roberts added: “We know that the vast majority of anglers are responsible and our team have great relationships with those we see fishing legally while out on patrol. They are often a vital source of information about what is happening in Merseyside’s more rural areas.
“While we regularly patrol hotspots for criminality, we can’t be everywhere all the time and many anglers can act as our eyes and ears on the ground, letting us know if they see anything suspicious or anything they suspect is illegal.
“Operation Leviathan will help us cement our links with the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to identify issues, share advice and prevent criminality in future.”
Damien Lees from the Angling Trust added: “This illustrates great partnership working and is something lawful anglers totally support in tackling a criminal element and those involved in anti-social behaviour which disrupts the angling community."