Marine Unit’s antisocial behaviour action working as incident numbers sink
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PC Daren Chambers on the personal watercraft
The Marine Unit’s work to keep people safe and reduce antisocial behaviour on our waterways is producing positive results as the busy summer season draws to a close.
In 2020, the team recorded 110 incidents of antisocial behaviour (ASB) on the waterways, with the overwhelming majority occurring during the summer months.
As we move into September, the team have seen just 75 incidents in 2021. They do not expect this figure to increase significantly before the end of the year.
Maldon District Council’s generous donation of a personal watercraft (jetski) in July and the return of the rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) Sentinel to the water in August has given the team better and faster access to areas of coastline they previously struggled to reach.
Essex has the second longest coastline in the UK at 562 miles, but the RHIB gives the team of six police officers and two special constables the ability to be anywhere along the county’s coast within an hour.
August saw RHIB used in the time-critical rescues of a high-risk missing person in Clacton who’d attempted to swim out to sea, and of two paddleboarders who were caught out by the tide on the River Colne.
As well as combating antisocial behaviour, the personal watercraft can get the team into previously inaccessible areas of shallow water and into tighter spaces in and around marinas. This has helped to improve community engagement as it enabled the officers to speak with water users and act quickly upon their concerns.
Ch Insp Darren Deex (pictured above talking to BBC Look East) leads the specialist operations group that includes the Marine Unit. He said:
“We saw an increase in ASB last year on the water during the pandemic as there was an increased use of leisure craft by members of the public.
“This year we’ve been tacking antisocial behaviour in collaboration with our community safety partners and we’re achieving a reduction in antisocial behaviour incidents.
“One of the success stories we’ve had is the use of personal watercraft that was donated by Maldon District Council.
“We’re working to increase awareness of bylaws but the majority of people who use our waterways are aware and are law-abiding.
“It’s the individuals who are using these vessels irresponsibly we are targeting. If they commit antisocial behaviour, they will be held to account.
“We not here to spoil anyone’s fun. There’s a clear safety message – in the wrong hands or with people who haven’t been trained riding them, personal watercraft can be dangerous.
“We’d urge everyone to make sure they’ve had appropriate training so they’re well-equipped to go out on the water and can stay safe.”
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