Hampshire police marine set to be disbanded by 2019

Hampshire police's marine unit
Hampshire police's marine unit
Benjamin Peace

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UPDATE: Hampshire police has issued an apology saying no decision is due to be made on disbanding the marine unit.

HAMPSHIRE police’s marine unit is set to be axed by next year.

The nine-strong team operates a £1.5m four-boat fleet in the Solent, with responsibilities for tackling terror.

Now it is set to be disbanded by 2019 in a bid to save cash.

It comes as 160 police jobs are to go in a near-£7m cuts plan.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘We can confirm that an operational proposal is being put forward to the Police and Crime Panel that the marine unit be disbanded in 2019.’

When Home Office funding of £450,000-a-year was pulled from April last year, Hampshire Police and Crime Panel chairman David Stewart wrote to the UK’s then anti-terror police chief.

He said it was ‘essential that our local waters are protected by the marine policing unit’.

Officers in the unit cover a range of roles, from counter-terrorism to tackling drug smugglers and human trafficking as well as providing a platform for firearms officers to protect VIPs at major events in the Solent.

The £1m-a-year unit had been part-funded directly from Home Office anti-terror cash and from £550,000-a-year from the force’s grant money.

Sailors in the area have previously criticised a move to axe the unit. Plans have been on the cards since 2015.