THE battle to keep Hampshire’s marine unit is continuing – despite a government promise not to cut the police.
Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, is making the case that the force’s marine unit should not lose central funding.
Weeks before chancellor George Osborne revealed no cuts to forces in the Spending Review, Mr Hayes confirmed he had been told the specialist unit would lose £450,000-a-year funding from the Home Office from April 2017.
‘I’m arguing that it’s a national necessity and should be funded from counter-terrorism monies announced,’ Mr Hayes told The News.
He hopes the counter-terror cash pledged by government in the wake of the Isis gun and bomb attacks in Paris will be made available for the Special Branch marine unit.
The unit has a £1.5m fleet and its work encompasses everything from dealing with thefts from marinas to counter-terrorism.
Councillor David Stewart, chairman of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, wrote with his concerns over the cuts to the UK’s top anti-terror officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.
John Apter, the chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, is concerned if the unit was to be finished.
He said: ‘It’s about cutting the policing cake accordingly – but there’s so much that the marine unit does that’s unseen and it’s about the anti-terrorism work that it does.
‘It’s an integral part of that battle against terrorism, especially when you look at some of our vulnerable locations along the coastline.
‘We shouldn’t think it’s a luxury – it’s a necessity.’
Hampshire police spends £550,000 a year on the unit on top of the Home Office cash.
The fleet was launched in 2012 and hailed by the force as securing its marine presence for 15 to 20 years.
Concerns have been raised that a reduced marine unit will also affect the safety of the navy’s fleet in Portsmouth. But The News understands the MoD Police has been recruiting more personnel ahead of the aircraft carries coming to the city as part of an enhanced security capability.