Jim Fitzpatrick MP

An MP has voiced fears that cuts to police marine units on the Thames could pose a security risk.

Reports suggest cut-backs of up to 40% to the Met Police’s Marine Policing Unit amounting to some £500,000 and resulting in the end of night-time patrols.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick says it  would make it easier for terrorists to target Parliament and other key sites.

In a letter to the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe he says: “The Thames has always been an Achilles’ heel — you can use it to get right into the centre of London.

"That’s why we had HMS Ocean and the other protection during the Olympics. Even a suggestion of ending night patrols is crazy”

“The marine unit provides invaluable safety and security to Londoners. Any major cuts will clearly affect the unit’s ability to enforce the law and respond to a major incident.The end of night-time patrols is also of great concern.”

Scotland Yard told the London Evening Standard: “Londoners’ safety will not be jeopardised.

“Detailed plans have been developed which will mean a reduction, but will ensure the Met can meet its obligations to police the river and inland waterways.

“All areas of policing must be reviewed and share the budget reductions.”

Police river patrols played a vital part in last year’s major events on the Thames including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant and London 2012 Olympics.

Officers were part of the joint security and surveillance operation which included ‘gateway’ patrols upstream and downstream of the capital during the games.

They accompanied the Olympic torch as it was carried down the river aboard the royal barge Gloriana.

River police also patrolled the river during special events like the royal reopening of the restored Cutty Sark.

Story dated February 11th 2013

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