Women on the Water enjoy fantastic visit to the MPS Marine Policing Unit
June’s Women on the Water meeting provided attendees with a truly superb hands-on experience with the Marine Policing Unit (MPU) on the River Thames.
Hosted by PC Charmaine Boswarva of the MPU at their Wapping headquarters, the event began with a wonderfully detailed presentation. This took us on a highly informative journey from the unit’s founding in 1798, through to their activities as part of the Met Taskforce (MO7) in the present day.
This included explaining what duties and training the 65 staff in the MPU carry out on a daily basis. This detail was further illustrated with examples and stories of some of the challenges they are faced with. Approximately 25% of the unit are female.
Fun fact: The MPU were founded in 1798 at a cost of £4,000. By the end of their first month in operation, they had recovered over £100,000 in stolen goods.
The riveting presentation was followed by a boat trip on a sun-drenched Thames. We were taken out by Superintendent Smart, Sergeant Jenny Hall, and PC Nikki Prince – who piloted the vessel towards Greenwich.
To the excitement of everyone on board, we were shown the top speed in which the boat could travel at, as well as the responsiveness of the controls. During the Q&A, we witnessed the blue lights of another police vessel whizz past en route to attending a call from London Bridge.
Fun fact: The Marine Policing Unit covers 47 miles of the Thames, from South Essex/Kent to Teddington, including all canals and any waterways within the M25.
After the trip, we were treated to a demonstration of the sniffer spaniel, followed by a tour of the offices. During this it was excellent to note how their quiet room has recently been transformed to accommodate new mothers using breast pumps.
It was then to the roof to witness a rope rescue demonstration with fellow officers, including Sergeant Rachel Beckford, who has been in the force for 22 years. The demo involved several sophisticated rope and pulley systems and illustrated how, by having the right knowledge and competencies, you can use different techniques to bring a person to safety.
Fun fact: The MPU’s Wapping headquarters has been at the same site since it was founded over 200 years ago.
The final part of the event saw a visit to the museum in a Grade I listed building, which featured hundreds of fascinating artefacts.
Much to the amusement of the group, PC Prince then regaled a true story of the drama that unfolded when a woman was shockingly discovered aboard a ship without a permit – and this was only in 1943!
Fun fact: The MPU is not restricted to the water – they are also responsible for all at-height work within the M25. The unit also consists of some 300 dogs and 70 horses.
We’d like to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone at the MPU for hosting what was a truly fantastic event. Thank you also to the Women on the Water group members who were able to attend this memorable day.
If you’re interested in finding out more about #WomenOnTheWater or wish to join the group, we would love to hear from you. You will be helping to:
- Encourage more diversity in the inland waterways sector, including the tidal Thames, by providing networking opportunities for women in operational roles.
- Support all women in the sector through knowledge sharing and mentoring.
- Position the industry as an attractive career choice for women.
The next Women on the Water meeting is an online workshop taking place on 6 October. To find out more information and register to attend, please visit this page.
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