As we approach the start of a month-long celebration of the River Thames in London through the Totally Thames festival I thought it would be worth giving a mention to just some of the people who will be directly involved in keeping the events safe. Even more importantly recognizing that they do this job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The main and probably most obvious provider of safety and security on the Thames is the Metropolitan Police Service and with 47 miles of the river Thames plus 250 miles of other rivers, canals, docks and lakes to look after they have a dedicated Marine Policing Unit based in Wapping.
The use of the river Thames is controlled and overseen by the Port of London Authority and its Harbour Masters look after the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Thames. The PLA set and enforce the rules of the river such as speed limits, use of moorings, etc. and also monitor and control the movement of vessels to ensure safety.
The PLA are also responsible for the maintenance of the river facilities and ensuring there is a safe channel to navigate.
Working alongside the PLA and based at the Thames Barrier navigation centre is the London Coastguard who coordinate incident responses and can call in other search and rescue assets should the need arise.
The London Fire Brigade also have two Fireboats that are based at Lambeth but cover the whole of the London area and these can provide rescue, salvage and fire-fighting capabilities to vessels on the river or to river-side properties.
Another, often overlooked, organisation that plays it’s part in keeping London and the Thames safe is the London Port Health Authority who are responsible for hygiene, disease and environmental control of ships using the river and ports.
The environmental control responsibilities are shared with the Environment Agency who also patrol and monitor the state of the river.
Last, but most definitely not least is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) who have 3 stations along the Thames in London and a 4th at Gravesend that covers the river up to Barking Creek.
The RNLI is a charity organisation with mainly volunteer crews (although the London stations do have permanent crew members) and the Thames stations were the first in the RNLI to cover an inland waterway. Tower Lifeboat station at Waterloo bridge is also the UK’s busiest station.
A big thank you to all those involved directly and indirectly in keeping both the professional and casual users and the wider population safe and secure – keep up the good work.