More Dorset Police sea patrols are to take to the water around Swanage Bay this summer in an attempt to stop antisocial behaviour on the waves.
Dorset’s marine police have two new tactical water craft to increase patrols of Purbeck beaches and coastal rivers, including Swanage, Studland and the Jurassic Coast, from August 2023.
Jetskis in shallow waters off Studland beaches have triggered complaints in the past
Complaints of anti social behaviour at sea
Patrols have operated in the peak holiday weeks for two years, since a boom in staycation holidays during Covid led to a big increase in small motor boats and jet skis on the water, often in areas set aside for swimmers.
An announcement that a police presence on the water would be stepped up in 2023, followed complaints from residents and visitors that some people were behaving antisocially by driving in swim only areas and speeding on inland rivers.
Dorset Police spokesperson Kristian Ward confirmed that the water craft would be used in Swanage Bay and off the Studland beaches as well as across the wider Dorset coast, which has almost 100 miles of coastline.
The new marine police patrols want to educate water users on the right way to enjoy a safe time
Engage, educate and finally enforce
With sandy beaches and shallow, warm waters, Dorset has become a top location for users of jet skis, watercrafts and paddleboards in the summer.
Sergeant Ryan Prater, of the Marine Force Support Group, said:
“Sadly, we do see jet skis being driven inappropriately, which can cause a danger to others on the water, not only around our beaches but also inland on rivers.
“Our approach is to follow the three Es – to Engage, Educate and finally Enforce should rules and instructions not be consistently followed.
“Just like on land, we’re able to issue dispersal notices to those not behaving appropriately and instruct them to go ashore under anti-social behaviour legislation.
“We work hard with our partners such as harbour masters and local authorities to ensure those on our waters follow local bylaws.
“This is another great example of inter agency cooperation with key partners to meet our priority of keeping the public safe in Dorset.”
One of Dorset’s marine officers alongside the police boat Buccaneer
“It’s like speeding through a 30mph zone”
Swanage Coastguard Ian Brown said:
“Partner agencies have been working very well for the past few years to try to improve the situation.
“I always consider that you can get antisocial behaviour on many different crafts, it’s not just jet skis.
“I welcome all partners from the coastguard and the local police to all the local watersports owners to make our bays a safer place to visit.
“We have been patrolling as much as we can, but to have police craft out as well, will help to get our message across more clearly – to make the Dorset coast safer and to prevent any accidents.
“It’s not a massive problem, it’s just about education – it’s like speeding through a 30mph zone, there are speed limits there for safety reasons and that applies to the water just as much as it does to a small village.”
The craft are part of a multi agency response, including the Poole Harbour Master
Ensuring a safe and fun time for all
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said:
“I am pleased to see the introduction of these two tactical watercrafts to help Dorset Police take the fight against antisocial behaviour beyond the shoreline.
“Residents and visitors should be able to enjoy our beautiful county, its shores and its waterways without being affected by antisocial behaviour (ASB).
“Cutting crime and ASB is a priority of my police and crime plan. Bringing together and working alongside partners to deal with the issues that matter to the residents and communities of Dorset is vital and to this end, I would like to thank everyone involved in this pilot project.
“The work that this team will be doing will help ensure that we can all have a safe and fun time when out on the water this summer.”
Inside the Dorset police boat Buccaneer, officers make sure that waters are being used safely
Safe swim zones marked by yellow buoys
Safe swimming zones have been established in Swanage Bay from Peveril Point to Sheps Hollow, marked by yellow buoys denoting a maximum speed of five knots for pleasure boats, and from Shell Bay to Handfast Point at Studland.
Users of jet skis or motorised boats are asked to be aware of everyone else using the water and to watch their speed, as well as checking the sea conditions and looking out for marine wildlife.
- The Royal Yachting Association has guidelines to staying safe on jetskis