Thames Police: Patrick Colquhoun Launches - The "Silver Role"
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The "Silver Role" by PC Bob Jeffries & PC John “Joz” Joslin (ret.)

With the economic constraints of the 1980’s and with the closure of Blackwall station it was decided that Thames Division could no longer sustain three launches. The John Harriott was the first of the three to be decommissioned. However, it is still a regular sight on the tidal Thames and it now carries commuters from Chelsea Harbour into Central London. Not long after, the Sir Robert Peel was sold to a private buyer leaving just the Patrick Colquhoun in service. This was known as the Commissioner’s Launch and over several years, apart from Metropolitan Police commissioners and Thames Division superintendents it carried a great many other passengers from members of royalty and visiting VIP’s to local street duties courses being familiarised with the work of policing the River.

In 1994 a report concluded that because of a reduction in manpower on Thames Division it would no longer be possible to sustain a permanent Launch crew and it was decided that although the Launch did perform a valuable public relations role the cost of maintaining an ageing launch as a working police vessel was prohibitive and it was decided that the Patrick Colquhoun would be disposed of. The following year saw a change of management on Thames Division and the new superintendent, David MacDonald, argued that the Launch could be used to perform a vital role as a forward control point in the event of a major marine incident. A full independent survey was carried out by the original manufacturers and found that the Patrick Colquhoun was in a basically sound state and that the osmosis, which had previously been diagnosed, was not anything like as serious as had initially been thought. This was followed by an impassioned made by Commander Ray. He argued that the Patrick Colquhoun, as one of the fastest vesels in the fleet and the only one licensed to carry twenty passengers should be retained and equipped to enable it to perform the “Silver Role” for which it was originally designed.

For almost a decade the Patrick Colquhoun has carried out just this role. It has served as a floating forward control on numerous marine operations. It has served as a “target” vessel for officers engaged in advanced RIB training and it has also continued in its role of promoting the Marine Support Unit and the Metropolitan Police not only to people from this country but also to visitors from all over the World. The Launch Patrick Colquhoun (1963-2003) will be a very tough act to follow.

Above Information supplied and confirmed by Ex Thames PC John “Joz” Joslin, written by Bob Jeffries.

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