This video and Q&A looks at the work of the specialist officers from the Devon & Cornwall and Dorset Police Alliance operations department (ops) who conduct their policing activities on, in or under water. Between them the two forces in alliance have responsibility for policing the longest stretch of coastline in England and Wales, as well as for many inland deployments.
Q: How many boats do the alliance marine team have, and what sort are they?
A: Devon & Cornwall Police marine section has three boats currently. Two are off-shore rigid hulled inflatable boats capable of operating many miles off shore with up to ten passengers on each.
A smaller inflatable boat can carry a maximum of five which can operate in rivers, harbours and lakes.
Smaller raft type inflatables are used by Devon and Cornwall for work when conducting dive operations inland
Dorset has an off-shore rigid hulled inflatable capable of carrying six crew.
Q: Does any other police force in the UK have more coastline to service than the Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Alliance teams?
A: All Scotland’s coast line is covered by one force – Police Scotland. However Dorset, Devon and Cornwall police have responsibility for the longest stretch of coastline in England and Wales.
Q: What other organisations or agencies do the marine and dive teams work with?
A: In the past the sections have worked alongside the RNLI, fisheries, Border Force, HMRC, National Crime Agency, MAIB, Coastguard, South West Water, the military, Health and Safety Executive, fire service and other police forces.
Q: How many Alliance ops officers are trained divers? What equivalent level of civilian dive qualification do they have?
A: There are currently seven in date trained divers holding commercial scuba and SDDE certificates.
Q: Are officers in the marine or dive team trained in their specific skills after they become police officers, or do they need those skills of experience before they join the police?
A: We only recruit officers who have successfully completed their 2 year probationary period and if selected are sent to one of two police diving schools. Previous experience and courses are not required to apply for the team but will be taken into consideration during selection of candidates.
Q: When would the marine or dive team operate in a life-saving role? Would they be tasked to do this by another organisation such as the RNLI or Coastguard?
A: If the team were on duty and deployed to an immediate spontaneous incident then we would of course operate in the life-saving role. Generally those agencies best suited to the incident (e.g. RNLI) are deployed in a life-saving role, however they could task us to assist in the recovery operation.
Q: Do police divers wear a particular sort of diving suit?
A: Yes, an enclosed dry suit.
Q: How many officers are there in the marine and dive teams?
A: Seven in Devon and Cornwall, three in Dorset (but there is an extended cadre of 15 other staff who can undertake marine policing roles).
Q: Do the marine and dive teams operate exclusively at sea?
A: No, they could be called upon to operate in any body of water including confined spaces such as wells, underground, caves and in free-flowing solids.
Q: Do both marine and dive teams take part in missing person / body searches?
A: Yes, this unfortunately is the main role of the unit and is deployed many times 24/7 within this force and other areas.
Q: Are the marine and dive teams involved in counter terrorism work, combating smuggling and investigation of or enforcing against illegal immigration or human trafficking?
A: Yes to all.
Q: What other sorts of crime might the marine and dive teams investigate or take action on?
A: As part of the Force Support Group (FSG) the dive section is involved in a variety of crime including public order and murder crime scene searches. However role specific would be searching for missing or hidden property, water based security at high profile events (e.g. Olympics, G8 summits), searching shipping for contraband/illegal immigrants or local water based marine crime. The Dorset Marine Team undertake some marine crime investigative work in support of the local policing teams.
Q: Do you only conduct marine and diving operations?
A: No – we are part of the FSG (Force Support Group) and are trained in many skills and carry out a variety of police roles such as: Level 1 response to major public disorder, disaster victim body recovery, licenced search officers, method of entry, protester removal as well as providing important support to local policing teams.
Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News