Essex police work with Southend boating community to tackle anti-social behaviour on the water

  • Pictures from Essex Police Marine Unit - who worked with the local boating community for its help tackling crime

A police force has taken to the coast to stamp out water-based crimes.

Essex Police have been talking to members of the local boating community to help them be more visible from their base in Southend and elsewhere on the Essex coast.

The force says the campaign has already seen success with anti-social behaviour on rivers and at Sea being halved.

It says the strategy has now been mirrored by other forces with marine units.

Reports of anti-social behaviour and speeding incidents involving personal watercraft (PWCs) this year were half that of 2022, despite a significant increase in users since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sgt Alex Southgate said: “We want to help visitors to stay safe while enjoying the many attractions our beautiful coastline has to offer.

"We try to educate PWC-users about safe riding, particularly those new to the activity. Most of them heed our advice. But some do not and then we take action."

Essex Police Marine Unit covers 562 miles of waterways and coastlines from the Thames at Crayford Ness to the River Stour in Manningtree, Credit: Essex Police Marine Unit

Marine Unit officers carried out 219 hours of high-visibility patrols in known hot-spot areas, at peak times in the spring, summer and autumn.

Reports of anti-social behaviour related to the use of PWCs reduced by 50% during this time, compared with the same period last year, from 74 incidents to 37.

There was a significant drop in incidents on the River Blackwater (65%); the River Thames at Southend (45%); and the Rivers Crouch and Roach (80%).

As well as tackling water-based anti-social behaviour, marine officers worked with local authorities and harbour masters to promote water safety along our coast and attend events in the marine community to provide reassurance and specialist crime prevention advice.

Sgt Alex Southgate continued: “It’s the third year we’ve run Operation Wave-Breaker and so regular visitors are now more aware of local water bylaws and the risks that speeding personal watercraft pose to other water users.

“We encourage people to report dangerous water-based activity to us so we can take action and we work with local councils, which are responsible for the bylaws, to prosecute offenders whose behaviour has put themselves or others at risk. This helps to keep people safe when they visit our coast in Essex.”

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