The Marine Policing Unit (MPU) is based at Wapping Police Station alongside the River Thames. There has been a police building for river police at this site since 1798.
The MPU is responsible for policing 47 miles of the River Thames in London between Dartford and Hampton Court. It also provides a response to over 250 miles of waterways and other bodies of water across the rest of London, such as lakes, reservoirs and canals.
As a 24 hours a day, seven days a week frontline policing unit, MPU officers will face many of the same situations as our landside colleagues, such as community based issues, security, and crime and antisocial behaviour. They proactively patrol the river to:
detect and prevent crime
maintain public order
help keep London safe
respond to calls across London where a water hazard exists
They work closely with other agencies such as:
Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI)
London Fire Brigade
Port of London Authority
London Ambulance Service
Canal and River Trust
the Environment Agency
All MPU officers, including inspectors and sergeants, are also highly trained police coxswains. A coxswain, or cox for short, is the person in charge of a boat, particularly its navigation and steering.
After approximately two years on the team, officers have the opportunity to be further trained to the level of advanced police coxswains and rope access operatives.
Here are some further examples of what officers working within the MPU do:
Respond to marine emergencies on the Thames and inland waterways.
Engage regularly with schools, marinas, businesses and other river users.
Conduct missing person searches of the waterway.
Assist with emergency evacuations.
Carry out specialist rescues.
Patrol the government security zone.
Respond to reports of crime and disorder on pleasure and commercial craft.
Provide operational support for events held in London, including the London Marathon, Thames Festival, and other largescale demonstrations on bridges or near the river, such as New Year’s Eve celebrations, the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, and the Notting Hill Carnival.