POACHERS caught fishing illegally on the River Test have been fined and had their equipment seized after a police operation in Test Valley last week.

Officers from Hampshire Constabulary joined forces with twenty river keepers and enforcement officers from the Environment Agency as part of an operation across the borough on May 22 to target poaching, hare coursing, non-residential burglary, theft of quad bikes and rural crime in general.

Part of their work saw four men, all of whom were from the Slough area, fined £100 each and have their equipment confiscated.

The culprits had been fishing on the stretch of water near the Mayfly Pub, on the A3057, north of Leckford, when they were approached by a river keeper.

They then fled but were stopped by police a few minutes later, who gave the quartet community resolutions of £100 each and confiscated all of their fishing equipment.

Three other suspicious vehicles were stopped during the ten-hour operation - on the A3057, Roke Manor and Romsey areas - and details of the vehicles and their occupants were taken.

PC Ian Bassett, from the force's Country Watch specialist rural crime team, said: "This demonstrates the huge value of working in partnership with other agencies and our local landowners and river keepers.

"As well as our colleagues from Roads Policing Unit and the Romsey and Stockbridge Neighbourhood Teams, this operation was fantastically assisted by enforcement officers from the Environment Agency and the river keepers.

"We successfully disrupted illegal activity on the river and this type of operation will continue. We want to send a message that we are out there on patrol and we will robustly target suspicious vehicles and people."

Officers have urged residents to report all incidents as soon as they are able to.

The public can report crime or suspicious activity online by visiting www.hampshire.police.uk/ro/report/

Additionally, there is a new facility to report Anti-Social Behaviour via www.hampshire.police.uk/ro/report/asb/asb-b/report-antisocial-behaviour/

For crimes that are still in progress, always call 999.