Night-time fishing suspended at Vale of Health following 'antisocial behaviour'

A fisherman throwing himself into the task at the Heath last week

A fisherman throwing himself into the task at the Heath last week - Credit: Ron Vester

Night-time fishing has been suspended at one of Hampstead Heath's ponds due to "antisocial behaviour".

The City of London Corporation (CoLC), which manages the heath, put out a statement saying any anglers caught fishing in the Vale of Health between 8pm and 8am will have their licences revoked.

Fisherman Harry Prosser received the warning after approaching the CoLC when he was mugged by a gang on June 20, while getting ready to fish at the Boating Pond at 4am.

He said: "I have biked around every lake every day since last Monday and have only seen two people fish the Vale, and only for the day as we’re all too worried gangs will target again.

"Antisocial behaviour isn’t caused by fisherman but we’re getting the blame and they’re pushing us towards the unsafer areas."

Bob Gibbs, chair of the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society, said night-time patrols by the police of Heath Constabulary should "definitely be introduced", adding: "This would also have an impact on the antisocial elements who use fishing as an excuse for a rowdy, night-time session on the Heath ponds.

"Clearly, 'the light touch' currently employed doesn’t make any difference to these characters, who are the usual suspects.

"They won’t be bothered if their permits are revoked, they’ll carry on regardless.

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"A spot fine or confiscation of tackle should be administered as a  proper deterrent to contrast the the behaviour of the few miscreants with that of the majority of anglers who go peacefully and inconspicuously about their business."

A CoLC spokesperson said: “Due to ongoing complaints of antisocial behaviour, which is supported with evidence, a decision has been taken to suspend night fishing on the Vale of Health Pond.

“Angling will not be permitted between 8pm and 8am until further notice. Anyone found fishing on this pond during these time may have their Hampstead Heath Angling Permit revoked." 

The CoLC did not give any details of the antisocial behaviour or any evidence of it. It did not respond to requests for details of what it is doing to protect anglers from thieves or gangs operating on the Heath.

The spokesperson said: “Night fishing is available at other ponds on the Heath.”

Angling is permitted on Hampstead Heath between 16 June and 14 March.