Originally formed under the Harbour, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, the authority to maintain our force is now contained in the Tees and Hartlepools Port Authority Act. Under the Act, the Harbour Police have ‘all the powers and privileges and shall be entitled to the indemnities and protection of a constable within the harbour and in any place not more than 2 miles beyond the limits of the harbour’.
Harbour Police officers are accountable to the Chief Police Officer. It is important that the Harbour Police retain a discrete ‘command structure’ which establishes and displays their ability to function as constables in a fair and impartial manner. Complaints and Discipline are the subject of an agreement between the Harbour Police, Cleveland Police Authority, the Chief Constable Cleveland Police and the IPCC.
Role and Function
Harbour Police play an important role in maintaining the safety and security of the Teesport estates. The port areas are extensive and may be legitimately frequented by a large number of people who are transiting the port, often for brief periods, with the means of moving large quantities of goods. A range of businesses from car dealerships to freight forwarders have premises on the port estate and we are home to a number of large, portcentric, distribution centres whose employees are involved in routine daily business. Access to ports and movement within them must, therefore, be controlled.
The primary function of the Harbour Police is the detection and reduction of crime. This is achieved through a combination of high visibility patrols, good local knowledge and good intelligence.
The use of highly visible patrols promotes the prevention of crime by removing criminal opportunities and increasing the risk of criminals being caught, while also protecting the Port’s assets, personnel and commercial interests and ensures incidents can be attended quickly and effectively. Detailed knowledge of the workings of the port means Harbour Police can control an incident or event with little or no impact on the day-to-day running of the port.
Our local knowledge and close relationship to the port users allows us to react quickly to any real or perceived threats or to any increase in crime.
Harbour Police exercise all the functions which may be expected of any constable within the jurisdiction and may be involved in many types of crime, assistance to the public, marine incident, traffic violation or assistance to other law enforcement agencies.
They need to be flexible, well equipped and well trained. Any criminal occurrence is processed through the Administrative Support Unit (ASU) at Cleveland Police and prosecuted through the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service in the normal manner.
Though Harbour Police have the right to exercise full constable powers, there are good arrangements in place with other forces for mutual assistance and collaboration, such as pooling equipment or cooperating in operations and exercises.
As Harbour Police do not, in general, have the specialist training or resources to lead on serious crime or a major incident, these would be referred to the Home Office police but the Harbour Police would provide support.