Crime rate sinking on North Coast waters

WATER COPS: Senior Constables Joshua Shaw and Heida Simon conducted patrols along the Richmond River and surrounding areas.
WATER COPS: Senior Constables Joshua Shaw and Heida Simon conducted patrols along the Richmond River and surrounding areas. Marc Stapelberg

SWAPPING patrol cars for jet skis, water police carried out more than 80 checks on our waterways during a blitz on the North Coast this week.

Senior Constables Heida Simon and Joshua Shaw patrolled creeks, rivers and open water areas in the Tweed/Byron and Richmond Local Area Commands over the past three days.

But Snr Const Shaw said of the 80 checks, not one person tested positive for alcohol.

"It was really good, everyone's got the message on the water. Unfortunately they haven't got it on the road," he said.

The operation started on Tuesday and wrapped up yesterday, targeting numerous commercial and recreational vessels.

Equipped with jet skis the Coffs Harbour sector received in March, Snr Const Shaw said they helped police "cover a big area in a short time".

"We went straight into the water with the jet skis checking marine breath testing, fishing items, all the maritime laws, life-jackets, flares, torches, fire extinguishers," Snr Const Shaw said.

"On the water we don't get too many positive readings."

The fines for breaking the law on the water were hefty, Snr Const Shaw said, with fines starting at $250 for certain offences.

However he said water crime statistics in the Richmond and Tweed/Byron LACs had reduced over the past five years.

"Maritime are out there, they (water users) know water police are going to be out there, everyone in the water is pretty good," he said.

Aligned with the message of surf lifesavers, Snr Const Shaw echoed the message for swimmers to swim between the flags and know their abilities in the water.

"Unfortunately there has been too many drownings this summer already."

Topics:  christmas jet skis new year's eve water police water safety

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