THE future of Hampshire police’s marine unit is hanging in the balance after its funding has been threatened.
Police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said the near-£1m unit’s main source of funding from government could be lost.
If that happens Mr Hayes said he may have to decide whether or not to fund it through the force’s budget.
He said: ‘I’m concerned about the suggestion that funding for the Hampshire marine unit from central government is going to be cut or taken away completely.
‘The concern is that will put at risk the future of the unit that protects not only the 300 or so miles of Hampshire coast but protects communities from crime and terrorism.
‘It’s a serious issue as far as I’m concerned.’
The unit patrols the HM Naval Base in Portsmouth and policed the America’s Cup.
Funding for the unit, made up of 10 officers including a sergeant, is made up of around 70 per cent from a national fund and the rest from Hampshire Constabulary’s budget.
The unit, a special branch department, spent £1.5m on a 39ft catamaran, Commander, patrol launch Preventer and two Rigid Inflatable Boats, Pursuer and Protector in 2012.
Officers work with the UK Border Agency, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Fisheries Agency and others.
Mr Hayes added: ‘If the funding cut is taken away altogether the decision I will have is do I just accept that and we let the unit shrink or do I take the money from the general policing budget to make up the difference?
Mr Hayes has asked Hampshire chief Constable Andy Marsh to determine future recommendations for the Strategic Policing Requirement for marine-related policing.