Fears district's rivers will go unprotected after police marine unit axe (From Maldon and Burnham Standard)
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Fears district's rivers will go unprotected after police marine unit axe
Fears have been raised that criminals could use Maldon district’s rivers undetected after it was announced that a police marine unit will be axed.
Essex police will disband their marine unit, based in Station Road, Burnham, and cut the number of the force’s dogs in a bid to save money.
Marine intelligence officer Simon Lofting, who has been with the unit for 14 years, said: “I don’t think the marine unit can be replaced, the amount of crime is very specialist and land officers often don’t know how to find certain details.
“We should be out on the water, especially with the growing threat of terror, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
It is estimated that the unit, which employs nine trained police officers to patrol about 360 miles of the county’s coastline, costs just under £500,000 a year to run.
Essex police and crime commissioner, Nick Alston, who sails on the River Blackwater, described the axing as “regrettable”.
He said: “I am sad to see the unit being cut back for the reason of savings. Traditionally there’s always some risk inevitably of terrorists or smugglers using the rivers so the police need to retain some capability.”
He suggested police could access the rivers by land instead.
Maldon district council’s river bailiff Nigel Harmer, who works on joint operations with the marine police, said: “It is a cut too much."
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