Southend: New rules in place to keep people safe on the water
Main article content
Our Marine Unit are urging water sports enthusiasts to familiarise themselves with the new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that covers Southend seafront.
During the pandemic, there was a rise in the number of people using personal watercraft (PWCs or Jetski) but a small minority behaved irresponsibly, putting other water users in danger and breaking local byelaws.
The new PSPO, passed by Southend-on-City City Council in November, covers the whole of the Southend foreshore from the MOD grounds at Blackgate Road to halfway across Two Tree Island where there are sites of scientific interest.
The only place you are allowed to launch a PWC from is the Shoebury Common Slipway in Ness Road and everybody riding a PWC will now have to stay at least 400m away from any public beach, pier or berthing area.
Failure to comply with a PSPO is a criminal offence that can lead to a fixed penalty notice of £100 or a fine of up to £1,000 upon conviction.
During the 2022 season, the Marine Unit stopped and spoke to 179 personal watercraft riders and 49 people in power boats about their behaviour on the water.
And, as a result, 164 verbal warnings were given and 12 personal watercraft riders reported for court action after speeding.
Marine Unit PC Ian Newling said the PSPO has been brought in after several near misses involving PWCs and anti-social behaviour from riders.
“We don’t want to discourage people from using PWCs, the idea is to make sure that everyone is safe and that includes the riders themselves.
“The PSPO is there to regulate those people who don’t want to abide by the rules. While the vast majority have been fine, a small minority have been causing problems.
“Their riding has been dangerous at times. They have ridden through moorings, and in areas where there have been swimmers, kayakers and paddle-boarders. It’s fortunate that we’ve not had any serious incidents.
“We will always look to engage with people first and explain the legislation, but if there are repeat offenders, we will take enforcement action.”
PWC riders should also be aware that they must have identification, insurance, and an RYA basic certificate of competence to go out on the water. They will also need a basic level of kit including a personal flotation device, and a mobile phone or a VHF radio.
As with road vehicles, it’s an offence to ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
PC Newling’s advice to anyone thinking about going out on the water is clear.
He said: “Get some proper tuition before you even consider buying a PWC and build up your experience. PWCs are the motorbikes of the water and people underestimate how powerful they are. Some PWC can go as fast as 90 knots. If you hit a wave at even 50 knots, you’re likely to come off and seriously injure yourself.”
Cllr James Courtenay, cabinet member for Community Safety & Public Protection, added:
“We want everyone who visits our wonderful seafront and Blue Flag award beaches to have a great day out and, most importantly, a safe day out.
“This means everyone must take responsibility for their actions and this includes the use of a Jetski and other personal watercraft. We have had reports of them racing close to pier and being quite reckless.
“I fully support Essex Police's Marine Unit and the work they are doing to police our waters and make sure everyone is safe, so we can all enjoy the beach, water and the sunshine that is heading our way. Remember to beat the heat, stay safe, keep hydrated, and use plenty of sunscreen!”
For more information on water safety, RYA courses, byelaws and launch sites, please read the PWC Code of Conduct.
We're offering even more ways of keeping up-to-date with our work across Essex through our weekly e-newsletter, called Dispatch.
Dispatch provides our communities with a weekly overview of news from Essex Police, along with crime prevention advice, information about our latest job vacancies, top tweets from our a selection of our Twitter accounts and lots more.
Dispatch is a digital newsletter which means once you sign up, it's sent directly to your email inbox. It's completely free and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Sign up today and stay up-to-date with how our officers, staff and volunteers are helping people across Essex, keeping you safe and catching criminals.