TAKING "bad lads" fishing can have "unbelievably good" results.

That's the view of the angler worker behind the scheme in Dorset.

Martin Derham spoke out after a councillor was criticised for saying troubled teens should get fishing trips instead of Asbos.

He is employed as a fishing tutor by Nacro, the largest offender charity in the UK.

He said the fishing trips combat social exclusion, stop crime and are educational.

"You would be surprised at the difference you see - it's unbelievable," said the 49-year-old, from Bournemouth.

He is the Dorset organiser for Get Hooked on Fishing.

People are referred to the course by agencies like schools, the probation service or the youth offending team.

A lot of the lads have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and typically have convictions for crimes like theft and vehicle taking.

Mr Derham said: "They behave differently with us because they are treated like adults.

"You show them some appreciation and they are as good as gold."

He said kids do not just learn about fishing, but about the environment, team-building and conservation.

Calculating weights and river areas teaches maths, and writing word-perfect reports on the trips teaches literacy.

He said the truancy rates of those on the course goes down by 75 per cent.

Visitors to the Echo website were mostly opposed to the course.

Phil, from Poole, said: "It sounds like a reward for bad behaviour to me."

However, "Dibbles", from Bournemouth wrote: "I have seen the results of a similar fishing scheme and it gives the kids a sense of self respect, belonging and team spirit that they might not otherwise have got."

Law and order campaigner Ken Pottle told the Echo he would like to see young offenders sweeping the streets in bright orange dungarees.

And Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts, ward member for Boscombe West, said the fishing trips were "unfair to good children".

He has vowed to campaign for boot camps for yobs which would involve strict discipline and hard physical exercise.