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First prosecution for body worn cameras
Body worn camera footage captured
by Environment Agency officers on
patrol has been used to support a
conviction for the first time. Callum
B e l l , 2 6 , o f Ly n d s e y S t r e e t i n
Houghton-Le-Spring, was fined for
obstructing Fisheries Enforcement
officers during an incident at Ouston
near Chester-Le-Street in June last
The footage shows Bell using
insulting and threatening behaviour
towards the two officers as they
investigated an illegal fishing offence.
He appeared at Newton Aycliffe
Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday,
31st January, where he pleaded guilty
to two offences of wilfully obstructing
the officers in the execution of their
duty, and two offences of using
threatening, abusive or insulting
behaviour towards the two officers.
He was fined £534 and ordered to pay
costs of £530.
In a separate offence from the same
incident, David Daniel Bilverstone, of
Northlands in Chester-le-Street was
charged with fishing without a
licence. He failed to appear, and the
case was proved in his absence. He
was fined £110 and ordered to pay
costs of £180. Acting on behalf of the
Environment Agency, Chris Bunting
told the court that on 18th June last
year, the enforcement officers were
carrying out a patrol of the freshwater
lake Ouston Springs. They saw Bilverstone fishing with a rod and Bell
seemingly asleep on the bankside.
One of the enforcement officers took
Bilverstone aside to fill in an offence
report form. He said he goes sea fishing and claimed he didn’t know he
needed a licence. At this point Bell
awoke and walked towards where the
officers were standing by the lakeside. It was apparent he was affected
by alcohol. He quickly became
Fish Health Inspectorate
Live carp can be brought into the UK illegally for several reasons – not just for
angling. Previously a shipment of live carp was seized at the Port of Dover with
assistance from our colleagues at the UK Border Force. The live carp were destined
for human consumption, but this still constitutes an offence and presents a real
risk to our native stocks. The origin and health status of these fish were unknown.
The illegal importation of carp from countries with a much lower health status
than ours has the potential to devastate wild stocks of carp, tench and other
species susceptible to notifiable and novel diseases such as SVC and KHV. Outbreaks of notifiable disease can also have a catastrophic effect on our aquaculture,
fishing industry and our environment. Please help us protect our native fish stocks
by contacting us immediately with any information you have about fish smuggling, or alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. n
aggressive and threatening towards
the two officers.
He tried to grab the offence report
book, threatened to push them in the
lake and twice lunged towards one of
the officers, trying to grab the officer’s
baton from its holster. Over the course
of several minutes he continued to be
verbally abusive, repeatedly swearing
and making threats. Even after the
officers had finished dealing with the
illegal fishing offence, he continued to
shout abuse towards them from
across the lake.
When interviewed, Bell said he was
drunk and hadn’t meant to obstruct
the officers. In court, he offered an
unreserved apology for his actions.
R a c ha e l C a l dw e l l , Env i ro nme nt
Agency Enforcement Team Leader for
the north east, said: “Bell was told on
more than one occasion that he was
being recorded by the cameras but he
continued to be threatening and abusive. “Our officers are doing an important job to ensure people are fishing
legally and taking action against
those that aren’t. The safety of our
staff is paramount, and they shouldn’t
have to put up with any kind of abusive or threatening behaviour. This is
the first time cameras worn by our
officers have been used to support a
conviction. Our preference is to prevent hostility in the first place, and I
hope this serves as a warning to others that their actions are being
recorded and will be used in future
court proceedings. Hopefully people
will think twice before acting in such
a way.”
Environment Agency enforcement
officers in the northeast first trialed
the use of body worn cameras last
year to help reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour, assaults and threats
against staff. It’s expected they will
be rolled out to teams elsewhere in
the country in the coming months.
The cameras – which are the norm
among many enforcement agencies –
can be used in a variety of ways,
including at visits to poor performing
waste sites, illegal waste sites, during
fisheries and navigation patrols and
even during incident response.
Officers must follow clear guidelines on use of the cameras, including
telling people they are being filmed,
and deleting any footage after a
month unless it is used for evidential
purposes. n


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