The NSW Police Marine Area Command has issued a safety warning to those planning school formal celebrations on licenced chartered vessels ahead of the spring formal season.
As the weather heats up, NSW Police Force will deploy a highly-visible and mobile policing strategy to ensure the safety and security of the community and those who choose to participate in on-water activities.
With assistance from NSW Liquor and Gaming, NSW Food Authority and NSW Roads and Maritime Services, the Marine Area Command conduct regular joint operations targeting licensed chartered vessels, also known as “party boats”.
The operations are conducted to ensure operators adhere to Liquor and Gaming legislation, safety and other compliance with marine regulations, and the safe storage and preparation of food.
Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Stephen Hegarty, said police will conduct regular patrols of King Street Wharf and Darling Harbour, focusing on public safety and targeting anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime.
“With spring just around the corner, we know a number a of young people are planning to attend formal celebrations and end-of-school functions on licensed chartered vessels,” Supt Hegarty said.
“We would like to remind any students, parents, carers, and schools that are aware of formal functions being held on party boats, that these licensed chartered vessels are just like pubs or clubs – if you turn up intoxicated, you will be refused entry and you will not be allowed on board.
“For anyone under 18, it is illegal to consume alcohol, and it is always illegal to consume prohibited drugs.
“If our officers become concerned for the safety of someone on board, they have the power to cancel a cruise at any time – so look out for your mates and know your limits.
“Our priority is to make sure that every person on board conducts themselves in a safe and appropriate manner – we do not wish to see any young person injured or worse, or end their schooling year with a criminal record,” Supt Hegarty said.
The Marine Area Command will also be assisted by general duties officers from across the Central Metropolitan Region, as well as Licensing Police and the Dog Unit, to conduct regular operations and business inspections on licensed chartered vessels.
“Police will board vessels, not only to enforce the law, but to ensure you and your family and friends are safe at all times,” Supt Hegarty said.
“We are aware that some students organise formal functions without the involvement of school staff, and we therefore urge parents and school representatives to talk to their children or pupils and be aware of any celebrations being held on Sydney Harbour.
“If you have any concerns, we strongly encourage you to contact our officers at the Marine Area Command in advance.
“It goes without saying that we want all students who are celebrating the end of their school year or school altogether, to have a great time and a memorable night – so celebrate responsibly, drink in moderation and look after one another,” Supt Hegarty said.
Superintendent Hegarty said the message should also serve as a timely reminder to operators of recreational and commercial vessels about complying with maritime laws.
“The NSW Police Force is responsible for the policing of all ‘On Premises (Vessel)’ licences and regularly meets with charter boat operators to remind them about the responsible service of alcohol and other maritime requirements,” Supt Hegarty said.
“Sydney Harbour is vast in size and there are limited locations where commercial vessels can embark and disembark their passengers.
“To ensure the safety of everyone on board, remember to check the vessel is in good working order and ensure all the required safety equipment is on board – most importantly, lifejackets.
“The Marine Area Command is responsible for attending to crimes at sea and will attend, investigate and take action where required,” Supt Hegarty said.
Visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au and follow the links to Maritime for details on exclusion zones and movement restriction times.