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Essex: Combating antisocial behaviour on our water

Published on Tuesday, 13th July 2021

Marine Unit

Maldon District Council has provided a Personal Water Craft (PWC) to support the work of the Marine Unit of Essex Police.

The warmer weather sees locals and visitors alike, take advantage of our beautiful waterways and coastlines, whether it’s to relax by the water or take part in sporting activities such as kayaking or paddle boarding, which have rapidly grown in popularity over the past year.

Essex Police Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Prophet said:

“We’re expecting to see lots of people head to our coastlines and waterways this summer, particularly as the Covid restrictions ease, and know this can cause concerns for our marine communities.

“We have seen reports of antisocial behaviour increase, particularly in relation to the use of personal watercrafts on the River Blackwell, the River Colne, Brightlingsea and Point Clear.

“Sadly, while most people are respectful of others and adhere to the local bylaws, there are a few individuals, whose inconsiderate and antisocial behaviour causes problems for other water users and the local community.

“This is unacceptable behaviour and we’ll be working alongside our local authority colleagues, who are responsible for our waterways and the implementation of bylaws, to prevent antisocial behaviour on the water and take appropriate action against those who cause a nuisance and act antisocially.”

“Maldon District Council’s generous donation of a personal watercraft to our Marine Unit is a very welcome addition to our marine resources, which currently include the Alert IV, a 42 ft Launch boat and the Sentinel, a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, known as a RHIB” added Assistant Chief Constable Prophet.

“The personal watercraft will assist our Marine Unit in tackling antisocial behaviour on our waterways and coastlines and enable officers to get to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as shallow water or narrow waterways.

“Not only will we be able to quickly respond to reports of antisocial behaviour on the water, we will also be able to carry out targeted patrols in places where we know there is a high volume of leisure water users in order to deter nuisance behaviour and ensure everyone can enjoy the water, regardless of the activity they are participating in.”

The Marine Unit, who are now made up of six police officers, two Special Constables and a specialist Marine Technician, police 562 miles of coastlines and waterways from the Thames at Crayford Ness to the River Stour in Manningtree.

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, added: “With more than 350 miles of shore, Essex has the longest coastline of any English county. That fact makes the work of our marine unit invaluable when it comes to keeping people safe as well as preventing and detecting criminal activity on our waterways.

“There have been concerns raised by residents and partners about anti-social behaviour taking place at out coastal resorts and this new addition to the fleet will help officers engage with those responsible and prevent the problems so our waters are a safer place, especially during the busy summer season.”

Cllr Wendy Stamp, Leader of Maldon District Council, said;

“We are delighted to be supporting our colleagues in Essex Police by providing a Personal Water Craft (PWC) in order to help them deal with the dangerous and anti-social behaviour which is sometimes seen in our waterways. Our Rivers and waterways should be enjoyed by everyone, but this partnership will strengthen our ability to deal with those who cause a nuisance to others and send a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated”.

But while combating antisocial behaviour on the water is a priority for our Marine Unit, having the personal watercraft will also help to improve community engagement and enable the officers to speak to local residents or water users in areas which our current boats can’t access.

“It’s really important that we know about, and understand, the issues which are causing our community concerns so that we can work with our local partners to resolve any issues” said Essex Police Marine Unit Sergeant Alex Southgate.

“For instance, if those concerns are around visitors not being aware of the local bylaws, then we can help to educate those people, to ensure they are using the water safety, respectfully and adhere to the local laws in place.

“This really isn’t about spoiling people’s fun but ensuring everyone can enjoy the water safely this summer.”

If you witness or experience any antisocial behaviour, please report it to us through our digital 101 service on our website.

Alternatively, you can call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.