Put the Essex Police Marine Unit on your radar

Essex Police maritime unit boat on the water

See how the Essex Police Marine Unit has evolved technologically since its launch in 1949.

As part of Essex 2020’s celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM), Essex Police are showcasing the abilities of their many teams who are constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to help people, keep them safe and to catch criminals.

Today’s video features the Essex Police Marine Unit, which is based in Burnham-on-Crouch.


The team consists of six police officers, two special constables and a number of operational vessels, including the 42ft launch Alert IV and Sentinel, a 24ft rigid inflatable boat or RIB. Alert IV is 25 years old and is our longest-serving police vehicle. All our vessels fly a Blue Ensign (flag).

Marine Unit officers cover 365 miles of coastline, one of the longest in the UK, and carry out high-visibility patrols along its entire length. They are all licensed search officers and assist our Police Search Advisor, or PolSA, with inland and coastal water searches when required.

Did you know… the unit launched in 1949 with the purchase of its first vessel, Vigilant, a wooden launch with a cabin and a radio. In those days, the team only patrolled the River Thames. 

Today, officers use high-speed RIBs, capable of 50 knots, and small, inflatable dinghies. And they no longer rely solely on paper charts for navigation – they now have marine chart plotters, radar capability and night vision equipment.

In good conditions, the team can reach any part of the Essex coastline in an hour.


Essex Police are recruiting police officers, special constables and detectives. Visit Essex Police careers if you want to learn new skills and become part of the team.