HUZZAH! The river bobbies are coming back. Earlier this year, I bemoaned the loss of the very excellent PC Jim Halstead who was a regular sight aboard the launch he shared with Environment Agency officers whilst patrolling our bit of the Thames.
Initially, it did not look as though there was any chance of us ever seeing the boys in blue on the water again but now, as part of a new initiative designed primarily to deal with the threat of illegal immigrants, terrorists and drug-smugglers coming up river aboard boats and using our marinas as ports of entry into the UK, the police will once again be patrolling our waters.
The news comes as part of the launch of Project Kraken which is like a neighbourhood watch on the river.
Local people are being urged to keep their eyes and ears open and to report any kind of unusual activity on the river.
It might, for instance, be people handling boats in a haphazard way (although goodness knows, there are enough of those around during the peak of the summer!) Strangers hanging around beside the river photographing marinas or security cameras are another thing that might make you stop and think.
Or, it could perhaps be people out on the river at night using a boat without lights. Basically, anything out of the ordinary should be enough to prompt a call to the police.
I attended the launch of Project Kraken at the Royal Thames Yacht Club on Friday and witnessed a harrowing video about the possible consequences of not reporting out of the ordinary events to the police. The film portrayed a terrorist bomb attack on a shopping centre and there were many instances when, had somebody reported unusual activity it could have been prevented.
If folk who live beside the river or who enjoy using it for recreational purposes stay vigilant, then, just maybe, we can make a difference and make Surrey a safer place to live.
It’s sad in this day and age that we have to think in terms of terrorist attacks but I’m delighted that, whatever the reason, there will be police officers back on the Thames.
The plan is that as many as 60 officers will be trained and will take it in turns to patrol aboard Environment Agency craft.
I’ve been invited to join some of these officers on their training and I’ll look forward to telling you how that goes in the not-too-distant future.