A new marine crime unit is out patrolling our coastline following specialist training support from Cornwall Marine Network.
The West Cornwall Marine Crime Unit was launched after a need was identified to crack down on boat and engine thefts, anti-social behaviour and other illegal activity out on our waters.
The training provision from Cornwall Marine Network (CMN) enabled 35 officers to complete essential RYA training such as VHF Radio, Sea Survival and Powerboat qualifications.
Cornwall Marine Network was able to source funding for the training as a delivery partner of the ESF Convergence Skills Support for Redundancy Wider Workforce project.
This resulted in the creation of the much-needed unit, which will operate from Falmouth harbour and patrol the length of Cornwall’s south coast.
The officers recently had their training put to the test during a three-week intelligence-gathering operation. They worked jointly with the harbour masters and UK Border Force, together with a police dog and dog handler, to survey all south coast ports and harbours from Plymouth to Land’s End.
PC Barry Nicholas, of the new unit, said: “It was a very successful operation which resulted in a seizure. We cannot say more about the seizure at this stage. We also monitored activity and highlighted areas of potential vulnerability to each harbour master.”
The unit will now provide a year-round visible deterrence on the waters, combating illegal fishing, theft, drugs trafficking or boat-users speeding or under the influence of alcohol. They patrol aboard Falmouth Fire Brigade’s 7.5m rigid inflatable boat Transco Phoenix and they also work together with the fire service to conduct safety checks for people living on their boats.
PC Nicholas added: “There’s a great deal of traffic out on the water, particularly during events such as sailing regattas and the Tall Ships race.
“We had a number of high profile marine thefts about a year ago. In one case up to £30,000 worth of outboard motors were stolen within one weekend. So we identified a need for a greater police presence out on the water.”
Cornwall Marine Network CEO Paul Wickes said: “We were delighted to work in partnership with the police to support this very positive initiative. It will provide added security to Cornwall’s marine businesses and those who enjoy time out on the water.
"We used our experience as a training provider for the marine sector to draw up a training plan and source the funding, which enabled the new unit to be created. The RYA courses were delivered by one of our member businesses Falmouth School of Sailing. Our experience, and the nature of the ESF Convergence funding, enables us to create flexible training programmes around the needs of each business or organisation.”