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Reserves train with Marine Unit ready for Olympics

During the Olympics, the Kent and Essex Police Marine Unit will be working around the clock to keep the county’s waterways safe.

To help the team based at Burnham provide 24-hour cover, a number of reserve officers have been trained to join the unit during London 2012.

Twelve officers will be taking a break from their usual roles around the county to help Marine Unit officers monitor traffic on the River Thames and respond to emergencies on the waterways.

Since the beginning of the year the reserves have been learning sea survival skills, navigational theory and what it takes to helm one of the unit’s three inflatable RHIBS capable of speeds up to 70 miles per hour.

The officers have come from very different backgrounds. Some like Ds Tim Marshall, a volunteer with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, are used to life on the water while for others, like Southminster based Pc Shelley Adam, it’s a completely new experience.

She said: “I didn’t have any experience before I started my training as a reserve but I’ve always wanted to be on the Marine Unit so I’m looking forward to playing a part during the Olympics.”

Ds Marshall has been a member of crew with the RNLI at Mersea for 15 years. For him being a reserve with the marine unit is the perfect way to combine an outside interest with work.

As part of their training the reserves have completed a Royal Yachting Association Powerboat course and learned what to do in an emergency if one of the craft should capsize. They’ve also experienced being winched 30 feet on board an RAF Sea King helicopter.

From June onwards the Marine Unit will be working in collaboration with the Port of London Authority to check all of the vessels travelling on the Thames during the Olympics have permission to do so.

As well as taking on extra responsibilities during London 2012, the team has to be prepared to deal with any number of eventualities along Essex’s 350 mile coastline.

The marine unit deals with the same crimes as the regular land-based officer on land deals with from thefts to violent incidents.

The crew could find themselves called upon to search for missing people, assist with a sea rescue or tow a wartime bomb to safety.

The team also works with the UK Border Agency to stop cigarette drug and people smugglers and regularly patrols the Thames in anti-terror operations.

As well as the RHIBs, the unit is home to a Launch Alert IV, an all weather vessel with specialist search and rescue equipment that can command and control any waterborne incident, and two jet skis. As well as helping officers move along the water quickly, they allow them to get into shallow water and are safe to use around swimmers in busy tourist spots.

 

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