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Police given high-tech night vision goggles to stakeout fishermen



Police given high-tech night vision goggles to stakeout fishermen

A POLICE force has been slammed for using hi-tech night vision goggles to stake out people fishing illegally.

Critics say Nottinghamshire Police, which is already in special measures due to concerns over how it investigates crime and supports victims, could have put the gadgets to much better use.

Officers from the Bassetlaw neighbourhood policing team travelled to the Idle Valley Nature Reserve site, near Retford, after dark following reports of illegal fishing.

The area is a “no fishing” private site with multiple signs at entry and exit points. Police spotted repeat offenders Luke Douglas and Layton Janes fishing on the lake.

The pair, both from Leeds, pleaded guilty to unlawfully attempting to take fish and were handed five-year criminal behaviour orders at Nottingham magistrates’ court.

Janes and Douglas, who had previously received cautions for illegal fishing, received respective fines of £320 and £160.

Inspector Hayley Crawford District Commander for Bassetlaw, commended the operation, stating: “It is important to appreciate that fish theft is not a victimless crime.

“Many fish that are stolen are worth thousands of pounds, negatively impacting on local businesses, livelihoods and the angling community, and this type of criminality can also cause environmental damage.”

But critics hit out over the use of resources after the details emerged.

Former Met Police officer Steve Perkins commented online: “Night vision goggles for illegal fishing. I assume there isn’t a drug/violent crime/burglary/robbery/gang issue in these parts.”

Adam Sheppard said: “Can’t find a burglar but can stake out a pond. Well done lads.”

Another critic posted: “I wish the public had the luxury of worrying about this, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry and so should you.”

In March, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary placed the force into its Engage enhanced monitoring process, due to it needing “to improve how it manages, supervises and carries out effective investigations” and “make sure that victims get the support they need”.

The watchdog also said the force “doesn’t have adequate processes, planning or governance arrangements in place to monitor performance effectively or identify areas where improvement is required”.

Nottinghamshire Police is standing by the operation to catch poachers.

Chief Inspector Clive Collings, lead for rural and wildlife crime, said: “This was one operation we conducted in response to community concerns. Other forces carry out similar operations.”

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