NSW has a large and busy coastline leading to an expansive system of waterways. The NSW Police Marine Area Command's (MAC) responsibility extends to all coastal area's of NSW to 200 Nautical Miles out to sea. From the earliest days of settlement, the state has required a dedicated water based policing service. The services provided by MAC are similar to those carried out by land-based police, including crime prevention and detection, search and rescue.
Police vessels and personnel are strategically located at important commercial and leisure ports with the base at Balmain on Sydney Harbour.
You can find the water police at Broken Bay, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Botany Bay, Port Kembla and most recently Eden. Some remote country waterways are serviced by their Local Area Commands.
Our Water Police hold the distinction of being the first civilian form of policing established in NSW. In 1789, one year after the colony was founded, Governor Phillip created a 'Row Boat Guard' to patrol Sydney Cove for smugglers and convicts attempting to pass letters to ships anchored in the harbour.
By 1830 an independent Water Police Force was operating. It was merged, with all other Police units, into the NSW Police Department in 1862. In the late-19th century, the Water Police entered the 'modern era' of combustion engines with two steam launches, the 'Bileola' and the 'Argus'. These were used for nearly 35 years before they were replaced with motor launches.
With the introduction of the NSW Police Marine Area Command in July 1999, equipment includes 11 sea going craft and a number of smaller boats, all with electronic navigational aids. MAC comprises, including operational water police, marine intelligence unit, marine crime prevention officer, divers, detectives and the marine operational support team (MOST)
With an increasing amount of commercial shipping and the immense expansion in the number and type of leisure craft on our waterways, the Water Police are being called on more and more to drive down marine crime.
Their duties include:
- policing the waterways of NSW to reduce marine crime
- protecting life and property, both at sea and on inland waters
- overseeing aquatic events and controlling spectator craft
- coordinating search and rescue off the coast of NSW
- carrying out diving operations and underwater searches for missing persons and evidence
- maintain and service police launches
- addressing marine crime prevention issues
- safety and compliance reinforcement
To be the premier Marine Law Enforcement Command in Australasia and to provide professional service to the community to reduce marine crime and maintain search and rescue effectiveness.
NSW Police Marine Area Command
4 Jubilee Place
Ph 02 9320 7499