10 December 2012

Focus on... Specials in the marine unit

Adam Houghton, 23

Specials Sergeant in the Marine Unit. 
Joined Kent Police in 2008.

A typical shift starts with a briefing where I’ll give the taskings for the day. I’ll pair up and collect a vehicle to go out on patrol around the marinas in Kent. While on patrol we’ll speak to boat owners, offering crime prevention advice and picking up intelligence on any issues. We can be called to assist in any water-related issues such as anti-social behaviour, recovering human remains and rescues.

If I’m working the shift on the water, I’ll be briefed by the Skipper and get ‘kitted up’ which includes dry suits, load vests, life jackets, thermals and safety equipment such as flares, quick cuffs and life saving vests.  We will be given another briefing on the water in relation to any specific operations, the weather conditions, tide times and any obstructions, before patrolling the waterways. You can see some of our boats on our Flickr site.

During the Olympics I worked as part the team on 24-hour patrol in the Medway Estuary and lower reaches of the Medway. We stopped boats and carried out security checks to make sure everyone was safe and had the right paperwork.

This weekend I was on a course to learn how to use the marine radio and also took part in the yearly officer safety training refresher. Previously I’ve got my level two powerboat qualification. After passing the four-day course, I can now skipper boats in daylight and calm-to-moderate conditions.

Specials in the Marine Unit
Having Specials in the Marine Unit is very unusual and up until recently, we were the first team in a police force anywhere in the country to use Specials in this way. And we are the first force to give boat handling courses to the Specials, allowing my colleagues and I to crew and drive the rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs).

Inspector Steve Seabrook, Marine Unit Manager, said: ‘The Marine Special Constable team is a vital part of the Marine Unit. Co-located at Sheerness Docks, they are a highly dedicated and well-trained team of volunteers who tackle a broad range of marine policing problems, independently and in support of their ‘regular’ colleagues.’

Becoming a Special
I wanted to become a Special because I wanted to do something different. The role is good life experience and something I really enjoy. It’s so different from normal working life and I’ve gained some great qualifications. You have to have patience, be able to commit to the time, be up for duties in your spare time (including weekends and nights). You also have to be able to absorb lots of information and make decisions quickly.

You can find out more about becoming a Special constable on the Kent Police website at www.kent.police.uk/specials