In order to preserve both the fishing and environment on our 200 plus waters and ensure they are in the best possible condition for members it is essential to have an active bailiff force. Our waters cover a huge geographical region and therefore bailiffs are recruited from the entire region.

The structure of our bailiff section consists of a Head Bailiff with overall control who is also a member of the committee. To assist in the management of the bailiff section all the waters are divided into 9 regions across the country and bailiffs allocated to specific waters each region. Each region has a Regional Head Bailiff who coordinates local issues and reports to the Head Bailiff.

A large force of bailiffs (in excess of 150) is on day patrol throughout the year including close seasons. Night surveillance teams cover each area. These teams have no set waters to cover, acting on information received and visiting waters, which are at known risk from poachers. Members may also be observed at night as some, a small minority, are under the illusion that dark nights give them immunity to disregard the rules.

The roles of the bailiff are many. These include, patrolling waters each week checking for pollution or other problems, which could endanger our fisheries or compromise members’ safety i.e. broken stiles, ensuring our signs are in clear view, replacing any which are vandalised, checking member’s rod licences and permits, ensuring that these are valid and are properly filled in with name address and photograph glued in the permit, reporting working parties needs on each water to enable working parties to be planned each season based on local priorities.

Many bailiffs also run working parties on their local waters each year, maintaining pegs, controlling vegetation and opening new pegs where possible. Please support the team by attending a working party each year.

The bailiffs ensure that members fish within the rules of the society and report all members who break them. Ignorance of the rules relating to a water is not regarded as an excuse as such rules are in the membership card and the water’s guide. It is members’ responsibility to read the rules each year and also take notice of updates in HLS, or local signs at each water.

The most important duty is to protect the members fishing by evicting non-members and gathering information on poachers for prosecution, obtaining police assistance if they fail to leave the water. If possible we charge these people under the 1968 Theft Act.
On the other side of the coin the local bailiff will have a vast amount of information on the water, which when asked he will gladly pass to the member i.e. where to fish, best methods for the conditions of the day, bait, rigs etc. If he can help he will. For the less mobile and older members the bailiff will assist in any way he can. At the end of the day if you have had a good days fishing from information received thank the bailiff so you can both go home happy.

In the good old days poachers were hanged or thrown into a dark damp cell and forgotten about, or at the very least branded on the forehead with the letter ‘t’ how times have changed but the crime remains the same so we must all be vigilant. Another undesirable aspect, which is on the increase, in all sports including angling that is totally un-acceptable, is any form of aggression directed at the bailiffs, either verbally or a violent act. These will be dealt with most strongly and were possible in the court. Remember please treat others, as you would wish them to treat you. Politeness costs nothing.

To be a bailiff can be a very rewarding, if you wish to know more about becoming a bailiff please write to PAAS Box 151 Macclesfield, Cheshire.