Wiltshire Police is believed to be the first UK force to give PCSOs the power to request a rod licence from people who are fishing.
The aim, the force says, is to protect fishing areas and the legitimate anglers who use them.
A number of Wiltshire PCSOs, alongside some police officers and Local Crime Investigators, are already trained as Wildlife Crime Officers, working closely with the Rural Crime Team to support rural communities and to disrupt criminal activity that targets these areas.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “Within Wiltshire, our Rural Crime Team is one of the only teams nationally to submit ‘disruption reports’ relating to Organised Crime Gangs, recognising that offences such as hare coursing and poaching are often entwined with their other criminal behaviours.
"I am immensely proud of the targeted work they are undertaking and the outcomes that they are achieving.”
“Legislation changes over the last few years have enabled chief constables to be more creative with the ‘policing powers’ that they can designate to their police staff working in roles such as a PCSO.
"This allows us to better respond to new or emerging threats to society. I am pleased that this power, which is normally only something that police officers can do, can now also be granted to PCSOs.
“Rather than just accompanying the water bailiffs on their patrols, this change in power will now allow our PCSOs to actively work alongside them to tackle illegal fishing activity. This further highlights our commitment to partnership working and to extend our disruption abilities to this additional area of the community.”
Graeme Storey, Environment Agency Fisheries Manager said: “Partnership working with the Police and Angling Trust is essential in allowing our fisheries enforcement teams to increase their ability to combat illegal fishing.
"Empowering PCSOs to check rod licences is a welcome boost to the numbers of officers protecting stocks and safeguarding the sport. We are grateful to the Chief Constable for taking this initiative.”
The Angling Trust has welcomed the news as a positive step towards seeing increasingly effective fisheries enforcement. Nevin Hunter, the Regional Enforcement Support Manager for the Angling Trust for South-West England said: “Members of the Voluntary Bailiff Service have an excellent working relationship with the Wiltshire Police Officers and PCSOs.
“Working together on joint patrols and other initiatives has offered real reassurance to those who fish legally across the county.
"This extended power will build upon this and further reduce the incidence of anglers fishing illegally. We commend Wiltshire Police for this action that will positively impact on all who fish legally across the county and we would love to see this happening across England”.