Angling inspector now out to catch fish poachersThat is people who steal fish - not those who boil them in milk
When Kevin Pearson was notified of a job that involved his policing skills and his passion for fishing - he knew he had to go for it.
The former inspector is now one of six regional enforcement officers with the Angling Trust which aims to catch those who steal fish from the country's rivers and angling spots.
Kevin and his five colleagues, all of whom are ex-police officers, now works two days a week with local forces to educate foreigners on British fishing etiquette as part of their "building bridges" initiative and to catch those who break the law.
He told PoliceOracle.com: "(We) specifically (look at) the migrant communities that are heavily into angling, the ones that come from Europe who have got a different approach to angling.
"They tend to take fish in large quantities which is not allowed by law in this country."
There are many motives for keeping this form of wildlife crime under control, one being that certain types of carp can be sold on the black market for thousands of pounds - therefore making it attractive to organised crime groups.
Recently in Teddington, a piece of net 75 meters long was found in a fishing lake and had caught hundreds of fish. It was spotted by some vigilant anglers who then freed as many fish as they could.
"This isn't a couple of guys who are taking some fish home for their Sunday lunch, these are organised poachers who are going to be taking these fish and selling them," he said.
Links between fish poaching and other crime types have been established and those who break into private fishing lakes have also been known to be involved in other types of crime such as the theft of farming equipment. Last year rural crime was estimated to have cost £37.8 million.
In addition to his enforcement work, which involves preparing intelligence on incidents which can then be passed on to the police, his work also encompasses a general conservation role which can involve organising litter picks.
He also liaises with anglers who are members of local fishing clubs that agree to volunteer to be "eyes and ears on the riverbank" and report anything suspicious.
During his 31 year career with West Midlands Police, Kevin had stints in firearms, public order and was a federation rep - ending as a uniformed inspector after 31 years, having been commended many times throughout.
He is a life-long angler himself who has represented England's police service in fly fishing competitions and has long been impassioned to protect the British countryside.
A member of the Angling Trust while he was in the police, he received an email notifying him of the position which combined his hard won policing skills and one of his favourite hobbies.
Undertaking an Open University degree in the run up to his retirement, he went on to become a community teacher, helping adults with their literacy skills. But he feels planning for the end of your time in the police service is only a small part of the process.
"Don't sell yourself short and don't under estimate the skills you have got over your 30 years and do something you love doing," he said, "Some people worry that they have just been a police officer and wonder what else they can do.
"They forget that all they did in the police service is gained skills that other people would give their right arm to access the training and opportunities that we have had, so don't waste it."
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