Armed police take to the seas

By Roddy AshworthARMED police are to patrol the waters off seaside resorts as part of a new counter-terrorism operation.Essex Police announced yesterday the regular patrols would be mounted by five boats from their marine unit, based at Burnham-on-Crouch, with armed officers from the force support unit.

By Roddy Ashworth

ARMED police are to patrol the waters off seaside resorts as part of a new counter-terrorism operation.

Essex Police announced yesterday the regular patrols would be mounted by five boats from their marine unit, based at Burnham-on-Crouch, with armed officers from the force support unit.

Chief Inspector Tim Stokes, of Essex Police, said: "We have routine armed patrols at Stansted Airport to ensure public safety.


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"Our aim is to maintain the security of the county's waterways and coastlines and these waterborne armed officers should also be seen as part of our normal response to the increased terrorist threat.

"I want people to understand our role and what we are about in this ever-changing, security-conscious climate."

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A police spokesman added the force hoped the move would reassure people rather than scare them.

"We want people to be aware that they will see these patrols on the water. The idea is that they are as high profile as possible," he said.

"We have received no specific threat - we just want to ensure the coastline has good security."

But Mick Page, the Tendring District Council cabinet member for tourism, said he was concerned the armed patrols could discourage people from visiting seaside resorts.

"This won't help very much. If they think there is a threat, extra security would of course be good, but it might put off visitors," he added.

"If it is really 'in your face', high-profile patrolling, it might frighten people. I suppose you see this sort of security more and more these days in other places.

"I could understand if they were patrolling around the port areas, but not guarding Clacton beaches."

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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