In 1949, Essex Police launched a specialist marine division to police the county's waterways and coastline. More than seventy years on and this specialist unit is still preventing crime, catching criminals and protecting the people of Essex.
Today, the unit polices 562 miles of waterways and coastlines from the Thames at Crayford Ness to the River Stour in Manningtree, working closely with partners such as the RNLI, the National Crime Agency, Port of London Authority, Border Force and the Coastguard Agency.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington talks about the Unit's top priority in keeping our marine communities safe on land and in the water.
Here to help our marine communities
With the second-longest coastline in the country, there’s a lot to keep the Essex Police Marine Unit busy.
Their top priority is keeping our marine communities safe on land and in the water – whether that be out at sea, on our rivers and waterways or in the various marinas and moorings around the county.
With our launch, the Alert IV, and Sentinel, a rigid-hulled inflatable boat known as a rib, our team patrols the coastline all the way from Mistley in north Essex, down past Harwich, Clacton and Southend, and along the Thames to Crayford Ness, just past the Dartford River Crossing.
While we take a great interest in our major ports at Harwich, Tilbury and London Gateway on the Thames, as well as smaller ones like Brightlingsea, the majority of the team’s work focuses on anyone who uses the water along our coast and rivers.
This doesn’t only mean boat-owners but paddleboarders, canoeists and kayakers, kite-surfers and people using personal watercraft, in fact, anyone who uses the water for leisure.