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Enforcement Actions

Port of London Authority Prosecution Information

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for enforcing many of the laws and regulations that apply on the tidal River Thames; but enforcement does not necessarily mean prosecution. Prosecution and the associated penalties imposed by a Court provide the ultimate sanction, but enforcement provides a range of responses from education and advice, to informal verbal warnings, through formal written warnings to action in the Courts.

Legal Background of the PLA

The Port of London Act 1968 (as amended) (The Act) consolidated earlier legislation and, over the years, has been amended by various Harbour Revision Orders. The Act provides the legislative backbone to the PLA but it is not the only law that applies on the Thames; the national laws of England and Wales also apply.

The Act creates offences as well as providing the powers under which the PLA can make its own Byelaws and give General Directions. The Act also provides that the Harbour Master can give Special Directions. Failure to comply with some of the provisions of the Act, Byelaws and Directions are offences for which offenders can be prosecuted.

Range of Enforcement Options

Enforcement covers everything from cordial education on the conduct expected on the tidal Thames to prosecution on indictment in the Crown Court where the Court may impose fines and/or send someone to prison.

The current range of enforcement options adopted by the PLA includes:

  • Education;
  • Verbal Warning (Informal);
  • Harbour Master's Warning (Formal);
  • Harbour Master's Reprimand (Formal);
  • Prosecution.

Recent PLA Prosecutions


Year of Prosecution Offence Outcome of Prosecution
2023 The Millennium of London, operated by City Cruises, was involved in a collision with the Pride of London, operated by London River Party Boats, near Waterloo Bridge on 15 December 2022.

During the incident, a member of the bar staff on board the Pride of London suffered a minor injury. Both vessels were also damaged, the Pride of London more seriously than the Millennium of London.
The Master of the Millennium of London, was ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling £3,400 for his role in the incident.

The Master pleaded guilty to the charge of navigating a vessel on the Thames in a manner liable to injure or endanger persons, or other vessels under section 108(b) of the Port of London Act 1968.
2019 A jet ski rider was caught on video footage taken by a local yacht club member, which showed him navigating a jet-ski at high speed in close proximity to moored vessels, rowers and kayakers in the confined area of Benfleet Creek (north of Canvey Island). The rider was successfully traced and identified with the assistance of Essex Police by checking launching records at a local slipway which matched the description of his distinctive jet ski. The assistance of Essex Police Marine Unit, with whom we have been engaged in close partnership working in the Canvey and Southend area, was invaluable in this case.

The PLA's prosecution of the offender resulted in:
  • Fine of £750
  • Victim Surcharge of £75
  • Costs in excess of £3,000
  • Total amount - in excess of £4,000 to be paid by the defendant.
This comes in the wake of the recent successful prosecution of a separate jet-ski rider involved in the high profile London incident and the publishing of a new PWC Code guidance document aimed at jet-ski riders
2019 Seven Jet Skis were observed in Long Reach inbound for London. Despite attempts by the Middle Harbour Launch to stop them, all seven jet-skis passed through the Thames Barrier at speed against red crosses being exhibited. Two jet-skis stopped at Blackwall Point but refused to give details to the Harbour Launch. The remaining jet-skis continued inward. Subsequently the jet-skis were pursued outward from Wapping by Met Marine Police at high speed but failed to stop. The Marine Police pursuit was terminated at Woolwich on safety grounds by Met Police Command. The Lower Harbour Service Launch also unsuccessfully attempted to stop the jet-skis at the QEII Bridge. The jet-skis were later observed re-fuelling at the Newbridge Causeway Gravesend and then proceeding outward bound. They were later traced to a launch site on the River Swale. One jet-ski rider was successfully prosecuted by the PLA under Port of London Thames Byelaw 14, Byelaw 16 and Sections 111, 117 & 108 of the Port of London Act resulting in a combined total of £6,320 in fines and costs.