Policing Essex waterways and coastlines

Date: July 2020

Policing Essex waterways and coastlines

Our county has the second largest coastline in the UK and Essex Police has a specialist unit that police our waterways and coastlines, helping to keep people safe and catch criminals. 

From the Thames at Crayford Ness to the River Stour in Manningtree, the Essex Police Marine Unit police more than 350 miles of coastlines and waterways, protecting the community and targeting those who attempt to exploit our waters to commit crime.

Specialist unit celebrating 70 years

The specialist unit, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, regularly work alongside the RNLI, the National Crime Agency, Port of London Authority, Border Force, the Coastguard Agency, National Coastwatch Institution and the marine community, to help people, keep them safe and catch criminals.

"Being a Marine Police Officer is a really diverse and sometimes challenging role" said PC Ian Newling.

"On a day-to-day basis, we could be dealing with any number of incidents in all types of weathers and conditions".

"We could be investigating the theft of marine equipment, searching for missing people or responding to a medical emergency, detecting terrorism, intercepting the movement of illegal drugs or responding to reports of unexploded ordnance devices, to name just some of the things we could be dealing with throughout the year."

While out on patrol covering the Essex waterways and coastline, the Essex police Marine Unit will visit more than 80 marinas and marine businesses, speaking to local residents, water users, holidaymakers, day visitors and business owners.

Excellent relationship

They pride themselves on the excellent relationship they have with the marine community which helps to ensure everyone can enjoy the water in a safe and responsible way.

PC Newling added: "Whatever it is we are doing, we work alongside the community, whether it's responding to reports of anti-social behaviour on the water or acting upon information provided by someone about a vessel acting unusually.

The community are key in helping us keep people safe and catch criminals and we urge water users to remain vigilant and report anyone acting illegally, dangerously or suspiciously to us via our website. Any footage captured can be sent to marineu@essex.police.uk. No matter how trivial it might seem, we want to know about it.

New number

Our new number is 01245 452815, but remember, in an emergency, always dial 999."

The team is made up of a core of full-time Police Officers, two Special Constables, a marine technician and supported by reserve police officers, who work part-time on the Marine Unit who help the Harbour Masters and local authorities with enforcing the byelaws.

PC Newling said: "Byelaws are the responsibility of local authorities, we support their enforcement to make sure those using the water are adhering to the rules. These are put in place to keep people safe and ensure Essex waters are used responsibility, so that we can all keep enjoying our beautiful marine environment."

You can keep up to date with what the Essex Police Marine Unit are up to by following them on Twitter @EPMarine

Unusual or suspicious

What does unusual or suspicious behaviour on the water look like?

• Vessel crew who show signs of nervousness or a lack of awareness of maritime protocols and customs

• Vessels showing signs of unusual modification or minor damage

• Increased activity at isolated coastal locations or at unusual times of the day or night

• Attempts to signal to vessels offshore or guide them into an unusual location

• Strange patterns of payment, such as large amounts of cash

• People testing site security or an unusual interest in site structures and wharfs


Immobilise is a national property register which is supported by Essex Police in a bid to combat the theft of high value marine equipment.  

Those who own marine equipment can learn about property marking as well as registering any equipment that they believe may have been stolen on second-hand trade and publicly checkable stolen goods database CheckMEND.

Visit www.immobilise.com for more information.


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