Met's Marine Policing Unit Says Stay Out of the River

Reminder of danger of entering Thames issued ahead of summer holidays

The Marine Policing Unit
The Marine Policing Unit. Picture: Met Police

Ahead of the summer holidays and warmer weather, the Met’s Marine Policing Unit (MPU) is raising awareness about the dangers of entering the water.

It has issued advice about what to do if you find yourself in the River Thames or any of London’s other waterways.

On average the MPU is called to over 20 incidents a week on the River Thames; they work with partner agencies such as the RNLI including the Chiswick Lifeboat station, Coastguard, Port of London Authority, Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum and London Fire brigade, to help keep the tidal stretch of the Thames safe.

Inspector Stuart Simpson of the MPU said, “Whilst the weather has been wet and rainy of late, we anticipate that, hopefully, warmer weather will come and people often see the river as a place to cool off. And although London will be hot, the river runs at an average of 12C. Cold water shock can occur at any temperature under 15C.

“I urge the public to not underestimate the river. Once a person is in the water they will almost definitely struggle to keep afloat or in control; the Thames holds currents stronger than any person, moves at extreme speeds and is capable carrying a person swiftly along the river. The water may look calm but the tides are extremely strong and quick, and can easily drag someone a mile in just ten minutes.

“Think before you act, consider the dangers and please do not jump in the water, however good a swimmer you are.

“For some people their natural instinct will be to try and save someone in trouble but as soon as you enter the water you will be putting your life at danger too.

“Please do not enter the water yourself and instead dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Officers and our partners are highly trained and able drive boats at high speed with skill and precision to get to a casualty as quickly as possible.

“The best support you can give is keeping eyes on the person in danger, providing valuable information so we can pin point an exact location.

“If you see someone in danger, act fast, act sensibly. Throw a life ring if possible, keep your eyes on the person and wait for trained and professional help.”

Along with their partners, the MPU is a member of the Tidal Thames Safety Forum and continues to work in support of their strategy to reduce suicide by drowning and accidental death by drowning. This work is pioneering and has included the implementation of a Mental Health Nurse working with the MPU full time along with a coordinator working across the NHS trusts.

If you find yourself in the water then please follow the RNLI’s ‘Float to Live’ steps:

- If you fall into water, fight your instinct to thrash around.
- Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
- If you need to, gently move them around to help you float.
- Float until you can control your breathing.
- Only then, call for help or swim to safety.

Officers often come across people who have chosen to take their own lives along the Thames and work very hard to recover anyone who enters the river, and bring them to safety. Sometimes, it is too late. In the first six months of 2021, 22 bodies have been recovered from the River Thames.

There is support out there for anyone suffering from suicidal thoughts. If you are in urgent need of assistance call 999. You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123 or reach them online.

If you are concerned about a friend, loved one or even stranger who you may think is at immediate risk call 999.

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.

July 8, 2021